High blood pressure, if left untreated, can cause problems that are hard to reverse. One of the most intractable being heart attack; a condition whereby the flow of blood to your heart is suddenly blocked. It can trigger this cardiovascular event by causing your arteries lose their stretchiness and become stiff or narrow.
As the British Heart Foundation (BHF) explains, the narrowing makes it easier for fatty material (atheroma) to clog them up.
If the arteries that carry blood to your heart get damaged and clogged, it can lead to a heart attack.
This is a very real threat – it is estimated that around 50 percent of heart attacks are associated with high blood pressure.
Luckily, there is ample opportunity to reverse high blood pressure before it causes damage.
Opting for a healthy, balanced diet is one of the most effective interventions you can make.
According to a review assessing the application of natural herbs for treating high blood pressure, fresh garlic or garlic extract are both widely used to lower blood pressure.
A clinical study suggests that a time-release garlic extract preparation may have a greater effect on blood pressure than regular garlic powder tablets.
Time-release refers to something that happens slowly over time, such as administering a drug.
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Another review noted a study of 87 people with high blood pressure that found a diastolic reduction of six millimetres of mercury (mm Hg) and a systolic reduction of 12 mm Hg in those who consumed garlic, compared to people without any treatment.
To put that reduction into context, becoming more active can lower your systolic blood pressure by an average of four to nine mm Hg – that’s as good as some blood pressure medications, according to Mayo Clinic.
Breaking down these numbers
Blood pressure is recorded with two numbers:
- The systolic pressure (higher number) is the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body
- The diastolic pressure (lower number) is the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels.
As the NHS explains, they’re both measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg).
“Ideal blood pressure is usually considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg,” says the health body.
General dietary tips
It is important to cut down on salt because salt raises your blood pressure.
UK health advice advises adults to eat no more than six grams of salt a day – that’s around one teaspoon.
Slashing your salt intake is not the only important dietary measure, however.
“Fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy foods, beans, nuts, whole-grain carbohydrates, and unsaturated fats also have healthful effects on blood pressure,” says Harvard Health.
Eating a healthy diet can also help to keep your weight under control; which is essential for staving off high blood pressure.
According to the NHS, being overweight forces your heart to work harder to pump blood around your body, which can raise your blood pressure.
“If you do need to lose some weight, it’s worth remembering that just losing a few pounds will make a big difference to your blood pressure and overall health,” it adds.
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