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What’s the fastest way to lower blood pressure safely?

Medically reviewed by Carmen Fookes, BPharm. Last updated on Aug 22, 2022.

Official answer

by Drugs.com

The fastest ways to safely lower blood pressure include:

  • Practicing breathing exercises that slow your heart rate and promote relaxation
  • Lying down and resting for 10 minutes
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Losing weight (if needed)
  • Doing regular exercise
  • Limiting alcohol
  • Stopping smoking
  • Taking your medication as directed
  • Cutting back on salt
  • Drinking more water
  • Eating a banana a day
  • Reducing stress.

Reducing blood pressure takes time and there are no quick fixes or tricks that lower it quickly; if fact, lowering blood pressure too quickly can be very dangerous. Most lifestyle changes and treatments take time, but stick with them, and your blood pressure will lower.

Breathing exercises

The Japanese Society of Hypertension recommend taking six deep breaths within 30 seconds to help reduce blood pressure. Find a quiet place where you can rest comfortably, Find a quiet place where you can rest comfortably and set a timer for 30 seconds. Close your eyes and slowly inhale through your nose and exhale out your mouth. Each breath should take about five seconds. Do this six times at least once per day. Try to keep your spine straight so you can breathe comfortably without straining.

Diaphragmatic breathing focuses on strengthening your diaphragm. Lie flat on your back, bend your knees, and use a pillow to prop your neck, so it’s level with the rest of your spine. Place one hand on your chest and the other right below your rib cage, then slowly inhale through your nose and imagine filling your abdomen with air. Exhale slowly. You should feel your hand on your diaphragm rise and fall. Repeat this process for five to 10 minutes about three to four times per day.

The 4-7-8 breathing exercise involves emptying your lungs then inhaling through your nose while silently counting to four. Hold your breath while counting to seven. then exhale through your mouth for a count of eight. Repeat this process consecutively three or four times in a row.

Lie down and rest for 10 minutes

This simple act can lower blood pressure within minutes. A study in the Archives of Medical Science showed that blood pressure was lower when participants rested in the supine position for 10 minutes compared to sitting.

Eat a diet rich in vegetables and whole foods

Processed or fatty foods, such as sausages, bacon, fried chicken, hamburgers, or fries can cause inflammation in your body which can lead to high blood pressure. Vegetables, fruits, and wholegrains can help reduce this inflammation. Plant-based compounds called flavanols may be especially helpful at lowering blood pressure. One study of 25,000 people reported that a diet rich in flavanols helps lower blood pressure. The higher the blood pressure, the greater these benefits, according to the research. Flavanol-rich foods include:

  • Berries
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Onions and scallions
  • Nuts
  • Red wine
  • Tea
  • Cocoa.

Maintain a normal weight

Carrying around excess weight increases your risk for high blood pressure and heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends that you aim for a body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9 to support healthy blood pressure. They recommend that you follow the eating and physical activity recommendations below to help control your weight.

Another way to accomplish a healthy weight is through intermittent fasting, a form of time-restricted eating. This is when you only eat between certain hours of the day, such as between 10am and 6pm. This has also been shown to lower blood pressure in human studies.

Move more

Aim for at least 90 to 150 minutes of moderate aerobic physical activity a week, the American Heart Association recommends. This can include activities such as:

  • Brisk walking
  • Jogging
  • Bicycling
  • Rowing
  • Swimming.

Limit alcohol

Alcohol can increase blood pressure and contribute to dehydration. Moderate alcohol consumption means no more than 1 drink a day for women and no more than 2 drinks per day for men.

Quit smoking if you smoke

Smoking contributes to high blood pressure and heart disease, among other diseases. Stop smoking and don't vape. Vapes also contain nicotine and can increase blood pressure.

Take medication as directed

Blood pressure-lowering medication can help control blood pressure and stave off its adverse and harmful effects.

A blood pressure of less than 120 mm Hg systolic (upper number) and less than 80 mm Hg diastolic (lower number) is considered normal. Systolic blood pressure is the pressure when the heart beats while pumping blood. Diastolic blood pressure describes the pressure when your heart is at rest between beats. When untreated, high blood pressure increases your risk for heart attack, stroke and other complications by damaging blood vessels throughout the body.

Cut back on salt

Stay under 1,500 mg a day of sodium, according to the American Heart Association. More than 70% of the sodium in diets comes from processed, packaged, prepared and restaurant foods — not the actual saltshaker. Consider the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan, which is designed to lower high blood pressure. In addition to limiting sodium, DASH calls for less red meat and less added sugar.

Drink more water

Dehydration contributes to high blood pressure, but staying hydrated by consuming ample amounts of water can help.

Eat a banana a day

Potassium lessens the effects of sodium on blood pressure. A medium banana has about 420 mg of potassium.

Other potassium-rich foods include:

  • Apricots
  • Avocados
  • Cantaloupe and honeydew melon
  • Fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk
  • Fat-free yogurt
  • Lima beans.

De-stress

Stress can cause an increase in blood pressure. Find something to do to take the edge off. This can be as simple as going for a walk or listening to music.

Mindfulness — the practice of being in the moment — has been shown to lower blood pressure within 8 weeks, according to a study in the Journal of Human Hypertension.

References
  1. Krzesiński P, Stańczyk A, Gielerak G, et al. The diagnostic value of supine blood pressure in hypertension. Arch Med Sci. 2016 Apr 1; 12(2): 310–318. https://doi.org/10.5114/aoms.2016.59256.
  2. Anderson D, McNeely J, Windham B. Regular slow-breathing exercise effects on blood pressure and breathing patterns at rest. J Hum Hypertens. 2010;24:807–813. https://doi.org/10.1038/jhh.2010.18.
  3. American Heart Association (AHA). Five Simple Steps to Control Your Blood Pressure. November 30, 2017. Available at: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/the-facts-about-high-blood-pressure/five-simple-steps-to-control-your-blood-pressure. [Accessed August 22, 2022].
  4. Malinowski B, Zalewska K, Węsierska A, et al. Intermittent Fasting in Cardiovascular Disorders—An Overview. Nutrients. 2019; 11(3): 673. https://dx.doi.org/10.3390%2Fnu11030673.
  5. Ottaviani J, Britten A, Lucarelli D, et al. Biomarker-estimated flavan-3-ol intake is associated with lower blood pressure in cross-sectional analysis in EPIC Norfolk. Scientific Reports. 2020; 10: 17964. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-74863-7.
  6. American Heart Association (AHA). How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure. Available at: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/changes-you-can-make-to-manage-high-blood-pressure/how-potassium-can-help-control-high-blood-pressure. [Accessed August 22, 2022].
  7. American Heart Association (AHA). Getting Active to Control High Blood Pressure. October 31, 2016. Available at: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/changes-you-can-make-to-manage-high-blood-pressure/getting-active-to-control-high-blood-pressure. [Accessed August 22, 2022].
  8. Watso JC, Farquhar WB. Hydration Status and Cardiovascular Function. Nutrients. 2019;11(8): 1866. https://dx.doi.org/10.3390%2Fnu11081866.
  9. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Drinking in Moderation. Available at: https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/moderate-binge-drinking. [Accessed August 22, 2020].
  10. Ponte Márquez PH, Feliu-Soler A, Solé-Villa MJ, et al. Benefits of mindfulness meditation in reducing blood pressure and stress in patients with arterial hypertension. Journal of Human Hypertension. 2019; 33: 237–247. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41371-018-0130-6.
  11. Breathing Techniques that Lower Your Blood Pressure. 2022. Modern Heart and Vascular. https://www.modernheartandvascular.com/breathing-techniques-that-lower-blood-pressure/. [Accessed August 22, 2020].

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