Silent Killer

Elevated blood pressure can be deadly

By Deb Dittner

blood pressureElevated blood pressure is sadly known as the “silent killer” and for good reason.

Many people walk around day after day and don’t realize they have this condition. Oftentimes, there are no symptoms.

Elevated blood pressure can then lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, sexual dysfunction, and aneurysms.

The cause of elevated blood pressure is often related to your lifestyle such as poor quality nutrition, stress, poor sleep habits, little to no activity, obesity and smoking, all of which you can control or totally eliminate.

Yes, medication can be prescribed, but that too can come with side effects. Let’s explore simple and often inexpensive ways to lower your blood pressure naturally.

According to Hippocrates, “All disease begins in the gut.”

More and more medical research has been looking at this over recent years, showing how probiotics can help change blood pressure. A high-quality broad-spectrum daily probiotic consisting of over 10 million colony-forming units and eating fermented foods such as sauerkraut is recommended.

Reducing inflammation will also aid in reducing blood pressure. Adding two tablespoons of flaxseed to your daily diet will help reduce inflammation. Flaxseed can be added to smoothies, baked goods, oatmeal and yogurt.

And ladies, this is also great for hot flashes.

Poor sleep can result in inflammation, causing arteries to stiffen and blood pressure to rise.

Developing a bedtime routine 30 minutes to an hour before you’re ready for sleep consisting of avoiding stimulants such as TV, iPhone and iPad will be beneficial. If you have sleep apnea, discuss what measures you can take with your health care provider.

Sometimes all that is needed is a wedge pillow. Darkening shades and cooler temperature in the bedroom will also allow for more restful sleep.

While we’re on sleep, consider taking an Epsom salt bath (no longer than an hour) during your wind down time. Epsom salts contain magnesium that aids in lowering blood pressure by dilating blood vessels and preventing the heart from spasm.

An array of treatments

Eating a diet of magnesium-rich foods such as almonds, pumpkin seeds, kale, Brussels sprouts, and many more is also helpful. Magnesium supplements may be warranted as well, especially if you do not get enough in your diet. This should be discussed with your health care provider as well.

In your Epsom salt bath, consider adding a therapeutic grade essential oil. Aromatherapy can create a relaxing effect on the body, improving blood pressure and heart rate. Oils to consider are lavender, ylang ylang, frankincense, and clary sage.

The benefit of adding yoga to your daily routine offers great heart health benefits by lowering blood pressure. Yoga postures such as legs up the wall, goddess, and reclined twists can be done right in bed. Some yoga practices may also include meditation that has been associated with lower blood pressure.

There are a number of styles of meditation to choose from, so select what works best for you.

Saunas have been shown to provide some heart benefits, lowering blood pressure by over 10 mm Hg systolic. I prefer infrared sauna but you can also consider dry or steam sauna. This also helps in the release of toxins from the body.

Some very tasty foods can also result in lowering blood pressure. Blueberries are a great source of nitric oxide with an added benefit of brain and bowel health. Beetroot is rich in nitrates, helping to relax blood vessels. Add beetroot to smoothies, prepare them roasted, or drink in the form of beet juice.

Asparagus provides heart-healthy effects that can lower blood pressure. Asparagus contains cladophylls, tons of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.

Studies have shown that eating raw, fresh garlic (1-4 cloves daily) decreases blood pressure by 11 mm Hg systolic and 5 mm Hg diastolic in a 1-3 month period. A normal blood pressure reading is 120 mm Hg systolic/80 mm Hg diastolic.

By eating healthier foods, lowering your elevated blood pressure readings by 11 mm Hg systolic and 5 mm Hg diastolic can make a significant difference in your overall health and possibly result in no need for medication.

• Deborah Dittner is a family nurse practitioner and health consultant. Her mission is to transform as many individuals as possible through nutrition and lifestyle changes. For more information, check out her website at or contact her at 518-596-8565.