Ten Ways To Control High Blood Pressure Without Medication

Editor's note: Hypertension is one of the most common, and most serious, health problems. It has the potential to damage vital organs like the brain, heart and kidneys. Millions of people take medications to control their high blood presure, but lifestyle changes are often just as important and can make it possible to handle hypertension without any medicine. Here, experts from the Mayo Clinic offer some non-medicinal ways to control hypertension. Remember, talk to your doctor before changing or eliminating any medication, and ask which lifestyle changes are right for you.

If you've been diagnosed with high blood pressure (a systolic pressure — the top number — of 140 or above or a diastolic pressure — the bottom number — of 90 or above), you might be worried about taking medication to bring your numbers down.

Lifestyle plays an important role in treating your high blood pressure. If you successfully control your blood pressure with a healthy lifestyle, you may avoid, delay or reduce the need for medication.

Here are 10 lifestyle changes you can make to lower your blood pressure and keep it down.

1. Lose extra pounds and watch your waistline

Blood pressure often increases as weight increases. Losing just 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) can help reduce your blood pressure. In general, the more weight you lose, the lower your blood pressure. Losing weight also makes any blood pressure medications you're taking more effective. You and your doctor can determine your target weight and the best way to achieve it.

Besides shedding pounds, you should also keep an eye on your waistline. Carrying too much weight around your waist can put you at greater risk of high blood pressure. In general:

Men are at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 40 inches.

Women are at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 35 inches.

Asian men are at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 36 inches.

Asian women are at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 32 inches.

2. Exercise regularly

Regular physical activity — at least 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week — can lower your blood pressure by 4 to 9 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). And it doesn't take long to see a difference. If you haven't been active, increasing your exercise level can lower your blood pressure within just a few weeks.

If you have prehypertension — systolic pressure between 120 and 139 or diastolic pressure between 80 and 89 — exercise can help you avoid developing full-blown hypertension. If you already have hypertension, regular physical activity can bring your blood pressure down to safer levels.

Talk to your doctor about developing an exercise program. Your doctor can help determine whether you need any exercise restrictions. Even moderate activity for 10 minutes at a time, such as walking and light strength training, can help.