Dr. Mimi Guarneri Core Strengthening
May 1, 2017

Dr. Mimi Guarneri Lifestyle & Mind-Body Techniques for Blood Pressure Reduction

As an integrative cardiologist for more than 20 years, I’ve continually seen dramatic positive health results when patients shift lifestyle behaviors. Controlling high blood pressure is critical for reducing the risk of stroke, heart disease, vision loss, kidney damage and other problems like erectile dysfunction and varicose veins. Applying simple lifestyle and mind-body techniques can reduce your blood pressure and health problems related to the blood vessels.

For most people, the maximum recommended blood pressure is less than 140/90. Anyone with diabetes or existing heart or kidney disease, blood pressure should not rise above 130/80.  If your blood pressure is high, I recommend a combination of approaches to reduce it.

Here are 12 of my favorite strategies. By the way, I practice all of these, and you can too!

  1. Weight loss: Maintain an optimal BMI (body mass index) of 18.5 – 24.9.  

Approx. Results for mean systolic reduction: 5 to 20 mm Hg per 10 kg weight loss

  1. DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension – National Institutes of Health): Consume a high intake of fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy; reduce intake of saturated and total fat; lower use of salt.

Approx. Results for mean systolic reduction: 8 to 14 mm Hg

  1. Sodium restriction: Use less than 2.4 g sodium or 6 g sodium chloride per day

Approx. Results for mean systolic reduction: 2 to 8 mm Hg

  1. Physical activity 150 minutes/week

Approx. Results for mean systolic reduction: 4 to 9 mm Hg

  1. Moderate alcohol consumption Limit to <2 drinks/day for men and 1/day for women 2 to 4 mm Hg
  2. Overall relaxation: Intentionally cultivate inner quiet, physical relaxation, and resistance to stress using any approach, such as listening to music or taking a walk (as opposed to the specific techniques detailed below)

Approx. Results for mean systolic reduction: 5 to 10 mm Hg

  1. Progressive muscle relaxation At least once per day for 10 minutes, practice sequentially tensing and relaxing regions of your body (it helps to start either with your feet or face and work upward/downward)

Approx. Results for mean systolic reduction: 2 mm Hg

  1. Cognitive/behavioral therapies Learn how to cope with stress and regulate your emotional responses

through psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and stress management

techniques

Approx. Results for mean systolic reduction: 9 mm Hg

  1. HeartMath (www.heartmath.com): Try this program (using books or practicing online) to cultivate heart-centered, positive emotions

Approx. Results for mean systolic reduction: 11 mg Hg

  1. Biofeedback: Use a device to help learn deep, slow breathing

Approx. Results for mean systolic reduction: 14 mm Hg

  1. Transcendental meditation Learn to intentionally quiet your mind and become aware of your

inner experience

Approx. Results for mean systolic reduction: 5 to 12 mm Hg

  1. Breathing exercises: Play with various techniques that deepen your breath and increase

oxygenation

Approx. Results for mean systolic reduction: 6 to 9 mm Hg