How to Lower Blood Pressure: 9 Ways To Make a Healthy Change

Craig Primack, MD, FACP, FAAP, MFOMA

Reviewed by Craig Primack, MD, FACP, FAAP, FOMA

Written by Rachel Sacks

Published 04/07/2024

High blood pressure is an ever-present health measurement we all know we should keep an eye on. And even though half of Americans have high blood pressure — also called hypertension — so many of us are unaware of it.

If you’re health conscious in any way (you’re here reading this for a reason), you know that high blood pressure comes with risks. But what are these risks exactly, and how can you lower high blood pressure?

Several factors affect your blood pressure, from your weight to the foods you eat. That means there are many potential ways to improve this part of your health, but we’ll help you sort through the noise with some of the best tips on how to reduce high blood pressure.

If you have high blood pressure, your first instinct might be to ask about blood pressure medications.

While these drugs can help, there are also natural ways to lower blood pressure, like weight loss, healthy eating and other healthy lifestyle habits. And the best part is that these habits will set you up for a generally healthier life.

1. Maintain a Healthy Weight

One of the most effective ways to lower blood pressure? Reduce your body weight.

Weight loss and blood pressure are linked. Obesity accounts for up to 78 percent of cases of high blood pressure, and even a slight decrease in weight has been associated with a small drop in blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association.

If you have excess weight or obesity, reducing body weight by five to 10 percent over six months can improve your blood pressure. Even losing as little as three to five percent of body weight can have a positive impact.

In addition to more movement and nutritious foods (which we’ll discuss below), a healthcare provider may recommend weight loss medications as part of a weight management plan.

These medications often include familiar names like Ozempic® and perhaps less familiar ones like metformin.

2. Regular Exercise

Does exercise lower blood pressure? Yes, getting your blood pumping is great for overall health — especially when it comes to lowering blood pressure.

In addition to helping with weight management, regular physical activity also makes your heart more efficient at pumping blood, which lowers the pressure in your arteries.

The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise to lower blood pressure and improve heart health.

This could mean anything from cardiovascular activities like running or cycling to strength training — even short, 10-minute walks are beneficial, especially if you’re just starting with physical activity.

3. Eat Nutritious Foods

Another tip to reduce high blood pressure is to eat a healthy diet with more nutritious foods and lower your saturated fat intake.

If you’re looking for more guidance on dietary approaches to reduce hypertension, check out the Mediterranean and DASH diets, which are effective diets for high blood pressure.

Fortunately, neither of these plans requires special foods. For instance, the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan recommends whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products.

4. Reduce Sodium Intake

Popular opinion: salt makes food more delicious. Little-known fact: high salt intake can increase blood pressure levels.

Ideally, you shouldn’t consume more than 1.5 grams of sodium per day to help keep your blood pressure in a healthy range.

If you eat processed foods, your sodium intake can be higher than you think. Try swapping processed foods for fresh ingredients and use herbs and spices to season food instead of salt.

5. Manage Stress

If you’re constantly stressed, your body is in a constant fight-or-flight mode, which means a faster heart rate and constricted blood vessels.

While easier said than done —  even learning how to lower your high blood pressure may have stressed you out a bit — managing stress is another crucial way to lower blood pressure.

Finding time to unwind, starting a meditation or mindfulness practice, using deep breathing techniques, talking to loved ones and taking care of your body are all ways to manage stress.

6. Quit Smoking

Yet another reason to quit smoking? Smoking harms your heart and blood vessels, increasing the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.

7. Rest Up

We’re sure you know that sleep is sublime — and getting more rest is one way to lower blood pressure naturally.

The recommended amount of sleep for adults is seven to nine hours of good-quality sleep each night. You can aim for this by setting up healthy sleep habits like a consistent sleep schedule and relaxing bedtime routine, as well as keeping your bedroom dark and cool.

8. Limit Alcohol Intake

While you might look forward to unwinding with a whiskey at the end of the day, alcohol consumption can increase blood pressure.

You may need to either reduce how much you drink or cut alcohol out completely to help lower blood pressure.

9. Ask About Medication

The healthy lifestyle changes above are great natural ways to lower blood pressure. But if you need more than these, your healthcare provider may recommend blood pressure medications in addition to healthy living.

These medications include:

  • Beta-blockers

  • Diuretics

  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors

  • Calcium channel blockers

Looking for more information about blood pressure before you start lowering yours? We have you covered. Keep reading to learn more about blood pressure in general and how to lower it.

What is Blood Pressure?

You know that managing blood pressure is important. But what is blood pressure exactly?

Blood pressure is how your blood moves through your arteries; high blood pressure occurs when blood moves at higher-than-normal pressures.

Blood pressure readings consist of two numbers: systolic, when the heart pumps blood out, and diastolic, when the heart fills with blood between heartbeats.

Your blood pressure constantly changes throughout the day based on whatever you’re doing, but normal blood pressure for most adults is below 120 over 80 millimeters of mercury, expressed as 120/80 mm Hg.

You'll be diagnosed with high blood pressure if your systolic blood pressure readings consistently measure 130 mm Hg or higher or your diastolic readings are 80 mm Hg or higher.

What Are the Symptoms of High Blood Pressure?

At earlier stages, hypertension often doesn’t cause symptoms. This means many people are unaware they have high blood pressure until they have serious health problems.

Because of this, it’s important to get your blood pressure checked regularly by a healthcare professional who can give you a proper diagnosis.

Why Should You Try to Lower Your Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure forces the heart to work harder to pump blood, which can cause heart problems.

Long-term hypertension can cause many health conditions, including injuring the lining of your arteries and leading to “bad” cholesterol. It can also increase your risk of heart disease and even potentially cause a heart attack, stroke or heart failure.

How Can You Lower Blood Pressure Quickly?

Unfortunately, there aren’t exactly tricks to lower blood pressure instantly. Instead, long-term lifestyle changes, such as losing weight and managing stress, are the best way to reduce blood pressure. Adding medication can be helpful in many cases as well.

Blood pressure is essential to your health, so keeping your blood pressure in a healthy range is very important.

If your healthcare provider has diagnosed you with high blood pressure, you might be wondering how to lower blood pressure fast. The process might not be quite as quick as you want it to be, but you still have plenty of options when it comes to lowering blood pressure:

  • You can lower high blood pressure naturally with healthy lifestyle changes, including maintaining a healthy weight, eating nutritious foods, reducing sodium intake, managing stress, getting more sleep and quitting smoking.

  • Reducing your body weight is especially important, as weight loss and blood pressure are connected — a decrease in body weight often leads to a decrease in blood pressure.

  • These changes not only lower blood pressure but can also improve your heart health and reduce the risk of health threats like heart attack, stroke, cardiovascular disease and more.

If these tips on how to lower blood pressure naturally aren’t enough, medication is another way to treat high blood pressure. In addition to medications specifically targeted to lower blood pressure, weight loss medications may help you lose weight and reduce hypertension.

If you want to learn more about weight loss or compare weight loss medications (like Ozempic vs metformin), you can seek medical advice from a healthcare provider.

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Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Craig Primack, MD, FACP, FAAP, FOMA

Dr. Craig Primack MD, FACP, FAAP, FOMA is a physician specializing in obesity medicine.

He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Illinois and subsequently attended medical school at Loyola University — The Stritch School of Medicine. 

He completed a combined residency in Internal Medicine and in Pediatrics at Banner University- Phoenix, and Phoenix Children's Hospital. He received post-residency training in Obesity Medicine and is one of about 7,000 physicians in the U.S. certified by the American Board of Obesity Medicine.

In 2006, Dr. Primack co-founded Scottdale Weight Loss Center in Scottsdale, Arizona, where he began practicing full-time obesity medicine. Scottsdale Weight Loss Center has grown since then to six obesity medicine clinicians in four locations around the greater Phoenix Metropolitan area.

From 2019–2021, he served as president of the Obesity Medicine Association (OMA), a society of over 5,000 clinicians dedicated to clinical obesity medicine. He has been on the OMA board since 2010, currently serving as ex-officio trustee.

Dr. Primack routinely does media interviews regarding weight loss and regularly speaks around the country educating medical professionals about weight loss and obesity care. He is co-author of the book, “Chasing Diets.”

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