15 Steps to Better Blood Pressure

15 Steps to Better Blood Pressure


Hey everybody. I’m Dr. Keller Wortham. Good. I’m glad you’re here. Means I didn’t scare you
off with all my talk of murderous clowns
and mimes in the last video. In case you’re late to the party, we were talking about
blood pressure in the last video and how it is a silent killer. And now today I’m going
to take a little time to discuss high blood pressure, the term we learned last time referred
to medically as hypertension, what high blood pressure
means for you and your body and your health, and as promised, some things that you can do to lower your blood pressure
right there at home with your lifestyle, with your diet. Just a reminder, the reason we’re talking
about high blood pressure is we’re discussing all of the risks
that it can have on your health. We discussed that high blood pressure increased your risk for
things like heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, damage to the eyes. So, there’s a lot of reasons to keep
your blood pressure under control. We discussed the parameters
for high blood pressure basically being keeping your blood
pressure in the sweet spot 120/80. And if you want to review kind
of what those numbers mean check out my last video. And if your numbers are going
over than 140 in the top number or over 90 then you have been diagnosed or you can be diagnosed
with high blood pressure. So, my patients come in all the time worried about their blood pressure. I see somebody every day who is
worried about their blood pressure and oftentimes just
them worrying about it especially when they get to my office will send their blood
pressure sky rocketing. So, a little caveat to
you guys out there, if you have a doctor’s visit try to stay relaxed when you go into get your
blood pressure taken. If you’ve rushed there, tell the doctor,
look, I just got here, I just need to sit
and relax for a bit. They shouldn’t be
taking your blood pressure right when you come up the elevator,
run in the room. Take a moment to relax, take some deep breaths, and if you’re someone who gets
nervous when you go to a doctor, something they call
white coat hypertension. I never wear my white coat anymore because it gets really dirty and because it scares people,
especially kids. So… But if you do get that
white coat hypertension, get a cuff and check your
blood pressure at home, when you’re there and you’re relaxed and you can bring in your cuff
and your reading, and say, hey, doc, look, I know it’s high here but, you know, look at this. This machine doesn’t lie. I’ve got blood pressure readings
that are normal all over the place. Just a little piece
of advice for you if you’re running into issues
of your blood pressure always being higher
when you’re at the doctor. Now that aside, if you have high blood pressure and if you’ve been diagnosed
with it by your doctor, you could be prescribed medication. And there are a lot of
medications out there that can control blood pressure. But what I want to talk about are the things that
you can do at home without needing to take a medication. And if you remember
from the last video, we talked about all of the different
influences on blood pressure. We talked about the fact that blood
pressure is influenced by your brain and what you’re thinking, by chemicals you put in your body like nicotine and
alcohol and caffeine, by your kidneys, by your parasympathetic
and sympathetic nervous systems basically kind of your… the ways that nerves
are firing off in your body, by your adrenal glands and hormones. So, all these different inputs
to blood pressure it might be overwhelming and feel like I don’t know what to do. There’s just too many things. But actually, it’s just the opposite. It means there are so
many opportunities for you to take to control
your blood pressure by just kind of looking into
all those different influences and how you can get them
to be better optimized for controlling your blood pressure. So, as promised, are you ready? if you have high blood pressure
you want to listen to this. We’re going to go over
15 different things you can do at home
or in your lifestyle to help get your blood
pressure under control. Okay. Number one, really most important thing
out of all of them is exercise. I know you’ve heard it. An exercise is so important
for so many things but for blood pressure
it is just critical. People who exercise have
lower blood pressure in general and the kind of exercise
does make a difference. Maybe you’ve heard about aerobic
exercise and anaerobic exercise. Well, both are great. But when it comes to
controlling blood pressure, aerobic exercise seems
to have more of an impact on lowering blood pressure. What is aerobic exercise? Well, basically it’s stuff
that gets your breathing rate and your heart rate up for extended periods of time. So, if you’re running,
jogging, swimming, going up and down stairs, even doing kind of yoga or Pilates or other activity that
raise your heart rate and raise your respiratory rate then you’re doing aerobic exercise. And it’s been shown that you just even getting in about 30 minutes to 45 minutes
of aerobic exercise a couple of times a week can substantially reduce
your blood pressure by up to 10 points, 10 mmHg. Again, mmHg a weird thing
we talked about in the last video but just know what you
can reduce it by about 10. And you don’t have to
be running marathons, This is just a getting into that
half an hour to 45 minutes a couple of times a week. I like to say ideally three to four
times a week for aerobic exercise and then you can pepper in
some anaerobic exercise, some weightlifting or resistance
training on the other days. So, that I would say is key. You take just exercise as
your number one goal and you’ll already start to
be helping your blood pressure. Now some people will ask, well Doc, but I hear that exercise
can raise your blood pressure. It is true. Exercise temporarily can. And if you’ve got concerns
about your heart or you’ve got other
health conditions, by all means talk to
your doctor about how to implement an
exercise routine safely for you. But most of the time exercise is going to do
you a world of benefit. And if you do it right,
there’s very minimal risk. All right. What else can I do to
help my blood pressure? Number two. Weight loss. Losing weight. Yes. So, it’s been shown that
people who are overweight have a tendency towards
higher blood pressure. A lot of that has to do
with hormones that change like insulin and other things that
go up when you’re overweight. Also, just your heart having to pump
blood to a larger body mass, means it’s got to kind of increase
the pressure in the system which is not great for your
arteries and your veins. And you don’t have
to lose a ton of weight. You can lose just about
5% of your body mass and again get an 8 to 10 number
drop in your blood pressure. So, really if you can
work on weight loss, you’ll do your blood pressure
a world of good. I have a lot of videos already
about dieting and weight loss, so I know the topics
can seem overwhelming and if you don’t know
where to start, please, I encourage you to look
up some of those other videos, but if you just focus on eating
a good healthy diet of whole foods and avoiding some of those sugars
and processed foods, you’re already going
to start your body in the right direction for weight loss. Number three. Sleep. Sleep is so important. I have a video on sleep too. But sleep is so important
for so many reasons. But we know that is critical to maintaining your
healthy blood pressure. When people don’t sleep
enough they get stressed and stress raises cortisol levels and stress changes some
other hormones as well. It can affect your adrenal glands and all of that could end up
causing a higher blood pressure. So, if you’re getting adequate sleep and I mean like eight hours a night which seems like a luxury, but again we’re
dealing with hypertension, high blood pressure which is a serious issue, so really try to make
sleep a priority. I have a note,
a caveat on that. A lot of people might think they’re
getting adequate sleep but could be suffering from
something called sleep apnea Sleep apnea is basically where
you fall asleep at night and you start snoring and then that snoring
gets worse and worse and you kind of cut off your airway, so you’re not really getting
oxygen at night while you sleep. And sleep apnea is a big risk factor
for developing high blood pressure. So, if you have high blood pressure and you’re overweight or if maybe your spouse complains
you snore all the time or if you’re really
tired during the day despite the fact that
you slept like eight hours, talk to your doctor about
screening you for sleep apnea because that could be the root
of your high blood pressure. Okay? So, sleep. That was number three. Number four. Smoking. Stop smoking. I know. I know it’s very
easy for me to say, but I’m sure there
are people out there that are watching this right now who know they can
just quit smoking. I’m just here to say a
lot of people think about smoking as bad for your lungs but it is really bad for your
cardiovascular system as well, that your heart
and your blood vessels. There are a couple reasons why. Nicotine is a stimulant. So, nicotine, when you smoke causes a clamping down
of your blood vessels and you smoke a lot usually, a couple cigarettes a day, maybe you’re smoking a pack a day, so every time you’re having
nicotine in your system it’s stimulating your blood
vessels to constrict down. And as that happens
more and more over time then your blood vessels
start to lose their flexibility, they start to harden. Nicotine… Well, tobacco actually is also a
very inflammatory substance, so all the other chemicals
in tobacco that have nothing to
do with the nicotine are causing like inflammation
in your body that can further cause a
hardening of the arteries. So, for many many reasons, smoking is really bad for
your heart and blood vessels. So, I know if it’s challenging, please talk to your
doctor about it. I help people quit smoking
all the time. I’ve got a video on that as well and we can talk a
little bit more about it. I’m happy to answer
questions for you, but please do whatever you can to focus on reducing the amount
of nicotine in your daily routine. And that goes for
e-cigarettes as well. There is nicotine
in those e-cigarettes, so it’s not just
the typical old tobacco. Okay? There you go. Number five. Reducing alcohol intake. Yeah, I know it’s
starting to be like, come on, Dr. Wortham, you are talking about
like reducing cigarettes, reducing my alcohol, like, where am I supposed
to get my fun? Well, we’re dealing again
with a serious subject, so I’m giving you these things that
are really within the grasp of you to be able to manage and moderate. And again, this is hopefully in replace of having
to take a medication. Alcohol has an effect on the
blood pressure in several ways. One primarily is that
alcohol is a depressant. So, it causes your blood pressure and a lot of your vital signs
to kind of slow down. Well, when you get off of alcohol you get this rebound effect where basically your body
kind of pumps back up again. So, chronic alcohol use can
increase your blood pressure especially over time and then people who
are on a lot of alcohol they can have what’s called
like a hypertensive crisis as they come off of it, meaning like the
withdrawal from alcohol sends their blood pressure
through the roof. So, if you are consuming
a lot of alcohol, talk to your doctor
about safely tapering off. Now, I know a lot of people say, well, I heard that
alcohol is kind of good for your heart and blood vessels. I have a video on that as well, but basically alcohol in moderation
can be considered safe for the heart and blood vessels. We’re talking about one
drink a day for a woman, maybe two drinks a day for a man. I say opt for things like red wine that have some biochemical properties that can be healthier for your
heart and blood vessels, but in general, especially if you’re already
suffering from high blood pressure, alcohol is probably going to be more of a detriment
than a benefit for you. Okay? So, that’s another thing you can
do right there within your power. Number six. Things you can do is
reduce sodium in your diet. Yeah, good old salt. Now I know a lot of people
think about table salt and your doctor says don’t
add a bunch of salt to your diet, but there’s a lot of
salt in food already, especially if it’s packaged food
or processed food, canned foods, frozen foods,
fast foods, a lot of them have a lot
of salt added for flavor. Now, some people who don’t
have blood pressure issues, salt is not going to cause
a problem for them, but if you’re someone whose
blood pressure runs high, chances are that increasing
the sodium in your diet is going to make your
blood pressure worse. Now, a lot of people
like salt because of flavor. Yes, salt is very good for flavoring but they’re – I always tell people, look, there are so many other
spices out there that you can add, that can increase
flavor to your food and help you kind of
substitute out the salt or at least reduce it. So, I’ve got a couple
here right now. I’ve got some cayenne pepper. I’ve got some turmeric as well. These are great spices to
add to lots of different foods, soups, meats and these spices
in addition to adding flavor that will hopefully help
you reduce your salt, also have great properties that alone can reduce
inflammation in your diet and reduce your blood pressure, and there are other spices as well, cinnamon, ginger, paprika, there are so many spices out
there that don’t involve salt. So, a good way to add those
is kind of substitution for salt or if not all the way
as a substitution, at least add that flavor so you can reduce
the salt in your meals. All right? Moving on. Okay. Number seven increase potassium in your diet. Potassium is an electrolyte. It’s one of the minerals we discussed on one of the
other videos that I’ve done and potassium is very important
for regulating muscle and since the arteries are basically
kind of a smooth kind of muscle, it helps regulate both
the tension in the arteries and also in the
contractility of the heart. So, potassium-rich foods are a great way to kind of
balance your blood pressure. Everybody knows about
our good old banana. So, I have got one here. You can also get potassium
from other things like avocado. You can get potassium
from leafy greens, these are so many
good sources of potassium that also have
healthy other properties, other electrolytes, other vitamins
in there that will help you. So, again make sure you’re getting
good potassium in your diet. I am coming down
the list of things you can do to help your blood pressure
right there at home. Number eight. Reduce caffeine. That’s a hard one for me. I know a lot of you out
there might be like, well, I like my
morning cup of coffee. Well, in general, having a cup of coffee in
the morning is probably fine. But if you’re someone who’s
consuming a lot of caffeine, you’re doing several cups a day and you have a
blood pressure problem, keep in mind,
caffeine is a stimulant, and when you have a stimulant it’s going to cause things kind
of rev up and clamp down. And if you’re dealing
with high blood pressure those are things that
you don’t really want. All right. So, try to moderate your caffeine. I know it’s hard for me to do too. I feel like my blood pressure
is high right now just because I had
several cups of coffee just to make sure I’m
staying focused for you guys, but yeah, just keep that in mind if you’re really trying to
regulate your blood pressure and avoid needing a medication. Number nine. Manage your stress. Managing your stress is so
important for your blood pressure. Now some of the things we’ve
already talked about help with that. Exercise helps with managing stress. Good sleep helps
with managing stress. So, some of those things
already might be helping if you put them in place. But if you’re trying to add
more things to manage stress, take walks. Get out in nature. It’s been shown that
actually just being in nature, literally like hugging trees and getting barefoot in the grass can help reduce stress, socializing with people that you
enjoy being around can help. Listening to music can help. Just even kind of changing your
perspective on things like traffic or things like conflict at work, just kind of reconfiguring the way
you’re looking at the world can also help with reducing stress. And if you can reduce stress, you’re going to tell your body, your sympathetic nervous system, your adrenal glands, you’re going to tell
them just chill out. It’s going to be fine. And that really can help your
blood pressure come down. Okay? All right, we’ve got a couple
more we’re going to go into. We’ve got number 10. My personal favorite and my gift to you all for
lowering blood pressure, now that I’ve taken
some fun things away, is this little guy right here, dark chocolate. Yeah, it is true that
dark chocolate, we want like 70% or above, will actually help
lower blood pressure. I mean this is fantastic to me, it’s like one of those
little natural gifts. So, if you want to try lowering
your blood pressure naturally, go out there, find some good
quality dark chocolate bars. Yeah, it’s a little more bitter
than your milk chocolate, but you’ll get used to it, I promise, and you can actually have
a very flavorful delightful way to lower your blood pressure. You’re welcome. Number 11. Another good treat. Berries. Got a nice little collection
of berries right here. We got some blueberries
and raspberries. I will pop one right now. Blueberries are great for
lowering your blood pressure. They’re rich in something
called polyphenols and polyphenols is magical molecule that helps reduce
inflammation in your body. It helps your heart,
it helps your blood vessels. So, start adding
berries to your diet. You’ll get a lot of those biological
chemicals and compounds that will help your blood pressure. So, we got a couple positive
things going on, right? Bringing it home we have got,
number 12. Meditation and breathing exercises. I know. Like I’m out in California. It sounds kind of hippy dippy
but it is true. They’ve got plenty of
studies that show just taking time to close your eyes and you don’t have to
have some crazy mantra, that is unpronounceable
to a lot of people. You literally can just
close your eyes and take deep breaths and listen to your breathing. If you want to practice some sort
of gratitude as you’re doing it that’s fine. But just even the simple
act of just staying still, breathing in, breathing out. If you don’t know
what to think about, just think of, I am breathing in and I know I’m breathing in, I’m breathing out and I know I’m breathing out. And you will chill yourself down, you will calm down your
sympathetic nervous system, you will in turn calm down
your adrenal glands and it can really help getting your
blood pressure in check. Okay? You don’t have to do it for long. Even 10 minutes in the morning
before you go to work, 10 minutes in the afternoon, a break during lunch can really help reset your body. It’s amazing what
the breath can do for us. So, keep that in mind. All right, before everybody
falls asleep, I am going to rev it back up. So, we’ve got that breathing,
meditation. Number 13. Calcium rich foods. So, they’re great calcium because we know the calcium
is so important to the heart, so important to the blood vessels, so find your calcium rich foods. We’ve got something right here, very rich in calcium, broccoli. Of course, there are dairy products, for those of you like dairy,
you have whole milk, yogurt, very rich and calcium. But broccoli is a
great vegetarian option. And calcium is again going to help
set and balances electrolytes, keep your heart well and improve the health
of your vascular system. And then number 14. Supplements. There are some supplements
out there that can actually help
lower blood pressure. So, one of my favorite
ones is garlic. Now I’ve got a clove
of garlic here but there are great
garlic supplements that actually have been
clinically proven to help lower blood pressure and granted you do have to
deal with some side effects. People can get garlic breath, but when it comes down to it, if you’re thinking about
having to take a medication with a lot of side effects or suffer from consequences
of high blood pressure, maybe a little garlic breath
isn’t the end of the world. You don’t take your garlic right
before you go out on a date, but other than that I think it’s a very worthy supplement
to add to your diet. They make garlic capsules, concentrated garlic extract. Berberine another supplement
that you can take that has been shown in studies
to reduce blood pressure. Omega-3 oils, again they’re great for the heart
and cardiovascular system, they’re anti-inflammatory. You can get them from fish but you can also get
omega-3 oil capsules. So, keep that in mind as well. All right? And last but not least, foods high in magnesium are great
for lowering your blood pressure. So, magnesium foods, again you’ve got some
of our vegetables, but you’ve also got legumes. So, I’ve got some legumes here. I’ve got some garbanzo beans. You can do lentils. Legumes are very rich in magnesium and magnesium is an electrolyte
that’s so important in helping your body
equilibrate itself and lower your blood pressure. So, there you go. If you’re dealing with
high blood pressure and I know, it’s kind
of scary to think of all the things that could happen
from high blood pressure, the stroke, the heart attack, but I’m telling you right now before you start a medication try all of these natural things. I mean there is 15 of them
I just mentioned, everything from exercise
and meditation and sleep to things you can add to your diet, to supplements you can take. Try these at home and see if you can start
lowering your blood pressure. If your blood pressure
is already critically high and your doctor is
worried about you, have that conversation. Maybe you do have to go on
a medication to protect yourself but that doesn’t mean you have to
stop trying these other things. And I have patients who we’ve had to
put on blood pressure medication, who didn’t want to be on them, who then later said, okay, fine, doctor, tell me what
I can do to get off this med. And they started the exercise and they’ve started to sleep well and they’ve started to diet and they stopped smoking, and in the end, we were able to take
them off the medication. So, just because
you’re on a medication doesn’t mean you can’t
try these things. All right? So, there you go. Wrapping up part two of
our blood pressure series. I hope you found this helpful. Again, I’m Dr. Keller Wortham. We’ll be back with
some more fun topics. And thanks for hanging out.