High blood pressure describes what happens when the force of blood pushing against your artery walls is too high. This process can have catastrophic implications in the long term. This is because the muscles in your artery walls respond by pushing back harder, which will make them grow bigger and make your artery walls thicker.
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Thicker arteries mean that there is less space for the blood to flow through to vital organs such as the heart, a process that can lead to heart disease.
It is therefore imperative to keep your blood pressure in check.
Luckily, making simple adjustments to your lifestyle can lower your blood pressure.
Evidence has found breathing techniques to be an effective strategy.
In one study, participants were asked to either take six deep breaths over the course of 30 seconds or to simply sit still for 30 seconds.
Those who took breaths lowered their blood pressure more than those who just sat.
How does engaging in breathing techniques help to lower blood pressure?
The link is commonly attributed to a primary cause of high blood pressure: stress.
Harvard Health explains: “Stress revs up the autonomic nervous system. This system oversees processes generally not under conscious control, including blood pressure and heart rate, but also more mundane functions like sweating and flushing.”
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Other stress-busting activities have also been found to have a positive effect on high blood pressure.
For example, listening to music daily has also been shown to reduce systolic blood pressure.
Systolic blood pressure indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls when the heart beats.
According to Blood Pressure UK, it gives the best idea of your risk of having a heart attack.
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Another stress-reducing activity shown to lower your blood pressure is spending time in a sauna.
A 20-year study showed that regular sauna use reduced death from heart-related events.
Furthermore, a small study found that acupuncture lowered both systolic and diastolic blood pressure (the pressure in the arteries when the heart rests between beats).
In addition to alleviating stress, diet plays an essential role in regulating blood pressure.
According to the NHS, you should cut down on the amount of salt in your food and eat plenty of fruit and vegetables to keep high blood pressure in check.
The more salt you eat, the higher your blood pressure so it is important to cut down on your daily intake.
How much salt should I eat?
“Aim to eat less than six grams (0.2oz) of salt a day, which is about a teaspoonful,” advises the health site.
The health body also advises eating a low-fat diet that includes lots of fibre, such as wholegrain rice, bread and pasta.
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