Low­er­ing Blood Pres­sure

Tweaks to help get a bet­ter, more ac­cu­rate read­ing

Reader's Digest Asia Pacific - - Health - BY AN­DREA AU LE­VITT AND ALYSSA JUNG

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.

SIT PROP­ERLY

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.

BREATHE SLOWLY

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.

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