reducing blood pressure: Hi - i need to... - British Heart Fou...

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reducing blood pressure


Hi - i need to make radical changes for a blood pressure check up in 3 months time. I am 37 male and my reads at the doctors were 150/104 tested 5 times while i was there, bought my own monitor from boots and it is not much different.

I have a poor diet , drink too often, too much strong coffee, a lot of stress and not enough exercise - so much to improve there and i know what i need to do.

My questions are - can i reduce it by ma,ing radical changes to the above in 3 months? and ho9w much affect does salt have if i were to change all the rest? ( my wife likes me to put salt in the rice and potatoes when cooking)

14 Replies

It sounds as though you mostly know the answers already from what you have written.

Too much salt can cause fluid build up in your body leading to increased weight. During pregnancy, due to having just a sole kidney I was advised to restrict salt intake to avoid unnecessary additional weight gain with its propensity to raise blood pressure. The first boiled egg without salt was tasteless. After my baby was born, the first boiled egg with salt added tasted of pure salt - yuk. My body had learned the actual taste of a healthier pure egg. Likewise with most foods. Pepper and other herbs are great alternatives for many foods.

So with the salt reduction and all the other measures you have mentioned put into place you stand a very good chance of seeing a great improvement all round in the next few months. Good luck!

steveomc in reply to Celtic

Thanks, but my wife wont stop putting salt in the rice - if i do all the other things but dont reduce salt will i still be ok?

Celtic in reply to steveomc

Go for it - the rest of your good intentions can only prove beneficial all tound.

steveomc in reply to Celtic

ok thats good. at least if after 3 months i can say to her i have done everything but we still have too much salt. to be honest i dont think its a big thing. if i clean up my other food then salt in the rice etc will be tiny amount

84green in reply to Celtic

Hi Steve and welcome.

You seem determined so that’s the first significant step out the way. Three months is also a reasonable time frame. I will give you my experience as an example. The key for me has been weight loss but I am conscious that may not be as relevant to you. In January my BP was 146/72 (my systolic has always been high, my bottom number ok). Cardiologist told me that for every five kilos of weight loss I could expect to drop five systolic points. A daily green salad would also help. I was on Amlopodine, Ramapril and Indapamide.

This morning my BP (still on meds) was 108/62. What’s changed?

I have lost 30kilos by following a low carb Mediterranean diet - no white rice, pasta, biscuits, potatoes or bread.

I drink three or four glasses of red wine a week at most.

I exercise for 60 - 90 minutes per day (walking, exercise bike, running, light weights, Pilates)

I try and avoid stress - rather than seeking it as I used to (consciously or otherwise).

I take medication as prescribed and some supplements (Vit C, magnesium citrate and ubiquinol).

I have more weight to lose and, in respect of BP, my aim is to reduce and then eliminate my medications.

I hope this helps.

Best wishes

That's good progress! I found that by far the biggest drops seemed to come from the exercise and weight loss. Hard to say which, because they're pretty inextricably linked!

But I'm at a point now where I'm really going to have to nag my GP about that last 2mg of candesartan because it's either that or cut back on the exercise intensity.

Pretty sure that, given the choice, moving is better than meds!

Thanks. Interestingly, I’ve just been for a brisk 60 minute walk. Straight after it was 98/60 (79).

Like you, I made a lot of changes at once so can’t comment in the effectiveness of each. My Instinct is that it’s the weight loss which has also controlled my blood sugar and taken me off that medication.

Learning to relax and think about something else is next!

Yes, I definitely see a big drop post exercise, especially in systolic.

Yesterday my morning reading was 102/61, after a 25 minute run (doing the C25K program at the moment) it was 87/61.

Settled back to 104/63 by the evening (before meds), so happy with that :)

After bypass surgery I made significant changes to my lifestyle and happily these resulted in major improvements to key health metrics, including blood pressure. The three months you mention is a reasonable time frame to see improvements, providing you take it seriously and radically shake up your lifestyle...starting now!

I seemed to see three major steps down in my blood pressure (which I regularly monitor at home), the first came from medication, the second came from significantly reducing salt in my diet, and the third came alongside weight loss/regular exercise. This could of course be simple co-incidence, but for what it's worth those were my observations. I suggest you sit down with your wife and have a frank discussion, if she's unwilling to change her habits then you need to make your own rice separately, in the scheme of things that's not too big an ask. Besides, if you're really eating healthily you'll be cutting right back on starchy carbs so you'll be eating less rice.

One final point, the level of exercise you should be doing is really quite high. The NHS and British Heart Foundation both recommend a MINIMUM of 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise. They define "moderate" as breathing too hard to make singing or regular conversation difficult. That's actually quite hard work, it's certainly far more strenuous than a spot of gentle gardening or walking the dog. In other words the exercise levels you should be aiming for represent a serious commitment in terms of both time and effort. However, the benefits are truly immense and, in my opinion, worth the effort.

Good luck!

The effect of salt (like most things) is very specific to the individual.

Dad used to eat bucketloads ofvthe stuff (and smoke like a chimney) and his BP was consistently under 120/80 right up until a brain tumor got him in his 80s.

Mum disliked salt, but also smoked, and her BP was always in what used to be the "pre-hypertension" range until she died of a stroke in her (very) late 70s.

I like a lot of salty (and fatty) foods like crisps and peperrami, smoke, and had BP around 135/85 when I had my heart attack.

Since then, I've reduced (but certainly not stopped) the dodgy foods, still smoke, but have got a LOT fitter (including losing aroind 22kg so far).

My meds are now down to the lowest possible dose of candesartan (2mg per day) which the lists describe as a paediatric dose.

My monthly average BP this month is 99/63 with a highest reading of 111/76 and a lowest (after a run) of 80/64 (felt a little dizzy for that one :P

So, yes, the other changes may be enough for you. All you can do is try and see what happens!

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Less booze, more exercise. That was all I needed, and BP went down drastically. I was an obese heavy drinker (I don’t like to use the word alcoholic, but I drank every day and missed it if I didn’t so ....). I’d tried supplements, but these made no difference. Losing the weight and quitting booze was like a miracle cure.

I’ve seen the possible side effects of BP meds, and whilst that’s one to avoid if possible, obviously if your BP is still high after any lifestyle changes, meds it is.

Well done on buying a BP machine and looking after yourself. I turned things around at 48, so you’ve got it made 🙂

Strangely on a health kick in 1984 I stopped using salt in cooking or adding it to food. However 16 years later I was found to have hypertension.

Diet and exercise undoubtedly the key. My BP was 140/90 consistently from mid twenties to just before 40. I lost about 3 stones in the year before I was forty and was as fit as I had been for 20 years. Cut the unseen snacks out and cut down drinking to a couple of nights a week. BP dropped to 125/75 in 6 months.

Salt is, like everything, ok in moderation. If the only salt you have is in the rice or potatoes it’s unlikely to exceed the 6g per day recommended daily allowance. But remember there is salt in lots of things.

Good time to change things and take heed of the warning. Easier said than done though and don’t beat yourself up and give up if you fall off the wagon, just start again the next day.

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