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Hypertension - Nonpharmacologic treatment options

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Hypertension - Non-Prescription ways to lower this silent killer.

High blood pressure in the United States is a leading contributor to heart disease, stroke, heart failure, erectile dysfunction, and chronic kidney disease. Many men and women may go years with elevated blood pressure, since often times elevated pressure has no specific warning signs or symptoms to indicate a problem is present. Unfortunately, years of exposure to high pressure in the vascular system can lead to vascular disease and organ damage. By definition, we consider hypertension present when blood pressure reading run in the 130-139 systolic or "top number" over 80-90 diastolic or "bottom number."

It is important to follow closely with a physician and monitor blood pressure, Often times, prescription medication may be needed to lower persistently elevated pressures. However, lifestyle and nonpharmacologic treatment options may help lower pressure naturally. These can include:

- Weight Loss

- Healthy diet rich in plant based foods, limited dairy, more whole grains, and limited red meats and saturated fats. Increased magnesium and potassium in the diet can help lower pressure.

- Low Sodium - limited to less than 2000 mg per day.

- Increased physical exercise.

- Increased resistance training.

- Limited alcohol consumption - ideally < 7 drinks per week

- Reduced stress.

- Improved sleep and treat sleep apnea if present through weight loss and CPAP.

- Avoid smoking.

The key with hypertension is keeping a close eye on your numbers and making the key lifestyle changes needed to bring pressures under control. It is important to have routine follow-up with your physician to make sure these changes are effective, and get further treatment for pressure that remains elevated.

If your doctor's solution is to prescribe a medication for high blood pressure without also addressing lifestyle, diet, and more nonpharmacologic ways to treat your blood pressure - it might be time to look at treating some of the underlying causes instead of just the numbers.

Dr. Mike