Lowering Blood Pressure
Tweaks to help get a better, more accurate reading
DOCTORS are increasingly focusing on the lifesaving benefits of lowering your systolic blood pressure, the top number in readings. A 2015 study showed that volunteers who lowered their systolic pressure to 120 had a 25 per cent lower risk of heart attack and a 43 per cent lower risk of death from cardiovascular causes, compared with those whose systolic pressure was 140.
Losing weight, eating less sodium, exercising more and quitting smoking are among the best non-medicinal ways to reduce systolic blood pressure. These tips may also help.
For your reading, sit with your back flat against the chair back and your feet flat on the floor (no leg crossing!).
SUPPORT YOUR ARM
Position your arm at heart level on a flat table. If your arm is too high or too low, your heart
might have to pump harder, which can raise your blood pressure.
A Japanese study found that patients who took six deep breaths in 30 seconds before a reading had a more than three-point drop in their systolic blood pressure compared with those who rested for 30 seconds without deep breathing.
NIBBLE DARK CHOCOLATE
Studies of 856 healthy participants showed that flavanol-rich cocoa products, eaten daily for at least two weeks, can lower systolic blood pressure by four points in those with hypertension.
GET A GRIP
A 2014 study showed healthy adults who did 15 minutes of hand-grip exercises three times a week for ten weeks reduced their systolic pressure by almost ten points.