High Blood Pressure

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    I went to the store and decided to check my blood pressure. It was in the pre-hypertensive range. What can I do to lower my blood pressure?

    Avatar of Leah Franson
    Leah Franson

    Diet plays a significant role in hypertension, whether it be increasing the risk or preventing it. Appel et al developed a study of dietary approaches to stop hypertension (DASH). It was proven that a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and low fat dairy products lowers blood pressure by a significant amount (1). Sacks et all conducted a similar study looking at the effects of this same DASH diet in addition to the influence sodium has on hypertension. The results showed that a reduction of daily sodium allowance along with a DASH diet significantly lowered blood pressure in the subjects (2). Currently, the recommended daily allowance for sodium is 2,300 mg. However, the average American consumes about 3,400 mg per day. Most of this sodium is found in processed foods. The idea has been proposed to lower the RDA to 1,500 mg in order to decrease the prevalence of hypertension (3). To lower your blood pressure, eat more fruits and vegetables (1) and lower your sodium intake (2). Cutting out fast food and processed foods will have a dramatic influence on reducing your risk for hypertension (3).

    1. Appel L, et al. A Clinical Trail of the Effects of Dietary Patterns on Blood Pressure. 1997. The New England Journal of Medicine. 336(16):1117-24.
    2. Sacks F, et al. Effects on Blood Pressure of Reduced Dietary Sodium and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension Diet. 2001. The New England Journal of Medicine. DOI: 10.1056/NEJM200101043440101.
    3. Proposed Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label. 2014. U.S. Food and Drug Administration.



    Thanks for your response to my question Leah. I’ve been thinking a lot about reducing my sodium intake. This will give me a lot of ideas to work on. Cutting back on fast food and incorporating more fruits and vegetables are two things I definitely need to work on. I also learned that exercising three times per week will help lower my blood pressure. (1) Exercising is also a good way to reduce anxiety which will help decrease blood pressure. Who doesn’t need to cut back on stress, right?

    1. Arroll B, Beaglehole R. Does physical activity lower blood pressure: a critical review of the clinical trials. The Journal of Clinical Epidemiology. 45: 5; 439-447 (1991).

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