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Lowering Your Blood Pressure Naturally Improves Overall Health

"Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a serious condition that affects millions of people," explained Erika Helgerson, DO. "If you suffer from hypertension you may want to take a close look at your lifestyle."

Improving your diet, adding exercise to your routine and eliminating triggers like stress, excess alcohol and tobacco products are natural ways to lower blood pressure without medication.

In fact, changing your lifestyle in this manner will improve overall health and longevity. Dr. Helgerson has provided a few tips for helping you reduce your readings, while improving your overall health such as lowering your risk of diabetes, high cholesterol, stroke and heart attack.


If you have hypertension your physician has probably already recommended a heart-healthy or Mediterranean diet. This type of diet is low in salt (< 2000 mg daily) and rich in fresh fruits and vegetables – especially foods that are rich in potassium such as lima beans, bananas and sweet potatoes. Herbs and spices can give food flavor without adding salt. Avoid fatty and processed foods as much as possible, and switch to dark chocolate (but practice portion control) if you crave something sweet. Dark chocolate has been shown to improve blood flow and lower blood pressure. If you routinely drink caffeine, limit your daily intake to 1-2 servings.


Exercising for 30 minutes four or five days per week can help improve hypertension in just a few short weeks. It isn't necessary to work out like you are training for a marathon; enjoying a walk or doing some light strength training is a great start. Some people find activities like yoga and Pilates to be especially calming. Exercise, in general, will also help relieve stress.


Speaking of stress, it is one of the worst things for high blood pressure. If you find yourself under a great deal of stress, try to remove the cause if possible. A job can create stress, as can family issues or money problems. If removing the stressor isn't possible, practice relaxation and coping techniques such as deep breathing or meditation. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep nightly can also help reduce stress and lower blood pressure.

Stop Smoking

As if there aren't already enough reasons to quit smoking, here’s another. It raises blood pressure by 10 mm Hg or more for up to an hour after you smoke. If you smoke regularly, this means your numbers remain at a raised level throughout the day. In addition, smoking can interfere with the effectiveness of medications that treat blood pressure.


A small amount of alcohol has proven to be beneficial to health, but too much raises your blood pressure. For women, one drink per day provides health benefits; for men, two drinks. More than that can be detrimental to overall health.

Important note: Uncontrolled high blood pressure can have permanent and detrimental effects to your health. Healthy lifestyle changes may not be enough to control your blood pressure. Before eliminating or modifying your prescription medications, always talk to your physician first.

About Dr. Erika Helgerson

Erika Helgerson, DO, a graduate of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, earned her medical degree from Kansas City University in Kansas City, MO. Dr. Helgerson completed her residency at Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, WI. In 2013, she joined Osceola Medical Center. As an osteopathic physician, Dr. Helgerson often takes a holistic, wellness-oriented approach to health care. If you are interested in learning more about Dr. Helgerson or wanting to work with her to improve your health, schedule your clinic visit today by calling 715-294-5680.

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