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How to lower your blood pressure

A digital blood pressure monitor and cuff. Illustration.

Aug. 19, 2021—How can I bring my blood pressure down? It's one of the most Googled health questions in the U.S. If you're wondering too, these four tips are a good place to start. And there's good reason to start now. Lowering your blood pressure can help reduce your risk of stroke, heart attack and other serious health threats.

1. Know your numbers. Most people with high blood pressure should aim for readings below 130/80 mm Hg, the American Heart Association advises. But if you haven't already, talk with your doctor about your blood pressure goals. To know if you're reaching them, you may want to keep track of your blood pressure with regular checks between doctor visits.

2. Choose sensible lifestyle changes. Doctors often advise lifestyle changes as the first step for blood pressure control. A few key ones include cutting back on sodium, exercising more, eating better and trimming down, if needed.

If that feels like a lot, focus on one manageable change at a time so you won't get overwhelmed, the American Psychological Association advises. For example:

  • To cut back on sodium, taste food before you add salt. If you think it needs a flavor boost, try a dash of black pepper or a squeeze of fresh lemon.
  • If you rarely exercise, commit to a brief brisk walk twice a week. You can up the challenge over time.
  • To start eating better, replace white bread with whole-grain bread. Or swap sugary soda for sparkling water with a splash of juice.

Once one change becomes a habit, move on to the next doable goal. It all adds up!

3. Build in some fun. Take the "work" out of workouts with a dance class—like salsa, jazz or tap. Or boost your diet with a book of heart-healthy recipes. Play tag with your kids, train for a 5K or hike with a favorite friend. Healthy living doesn't have to feel like a chore.

And don't forget to celebrate your successes. When you complete that 5K, treat yourself to new workout clothes or a rest day doing something you enjoy.

4. Make medicine a priority. To get the most out of any high blood pressure medicine your doctor prescribes, you need to take it exactly as directed. If it's hard to afford your medicine, tell your doctor or pharmacist. There may be a cheaper, generic version. Or you may be eligible for assistance.

Learn more about blood pressure

Check out our High Blood Pressure health topic center to find out more about managing your numbers.

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