The Biggest Myth About Blood Pressure You Need to Stop Believing

A study found that it's not only people with high blood pressure who are at risk of heart disease.

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if your blood pressure measures 120 systolic and 80 diastolic, or "120 over 80," you fall into the normal range of what is considered healthy. And that's a good thing. After all, you want to avoid the increased risk of a stroke or heart attack that is associated with high blood pressure. But just when you thought you had one less thing to worry about, recent research has debunked this common blood pressure myth. A new study found that having "normal" blood pressure is far from a guaranteed protector against heart disease.

The June 2020 study, published in JAMA Cardiology, examined nearly 1,500 patients in hopes of gaining a better understanding of what level of heart disease risk was associated with normal blood pressure (again, 120/80)—specifically in patients who didn't have any other major risk factors for heart conditions. The researchers focused on increases in systolic blood pressure (the top number in your blood pressure reading) with age, adjusting the data for changes in other heart disease risks.

The results indicated that for every 10 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) increase in systolic blood pressure, "the risk of calcium deposits and cardiovascular events rose accordingly," The New York Times reported on the study's findings. Further, when the researchers compared participants who had systolic pressures of 90 to 99 mmHg with those with systolic pressures of 120 to 129 mmHg, the latter group was determined to be nearly five times more likely to experience a cardiovascular event.

With that in mind, here are a few ways you can start lowering your blood pressure, even if it is already considered "normal." And for more medical misconceptions, This Is the Biggest Myth About Dementia You Need to Stop Believing.

Read the original article on Best Life.

1
Go outside.

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In one 2014 study from the University of Southampton, researchers found that sunlight can alter amounts of nitric oxide in the skin and blood, resulting in lower blood pressure. And for more on the benefits of getting a little daily sunshine, check out Lacking This Vitamin Is Putting You at Severe COVID Risk, Study Says.

2
Exercise.

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There are few things better for your health than regular exercise. And that doesn't mean you have to spend hours a day pumping iron. Quite the opposite, in fact. Research published in 2019 in the journal Hypertension found that both men and women who walked for 30 minutes before work saw an average eight-hour blood pressure reduction of 3.4 mmHg.

3
Get plenty of vitamin C.

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When it comes to lowering your blood pressure naturally—not to mention keeping you safe from COVID-19—vitamin C is your best friend. In one 2012 meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers concluded that consuming approximately 500 mg daily of vitamin C—the equivalent of approximately six cups of orange juice—can reduce blood pressure by nearly 4 mmHg. And if you don't know if you are getting enough essential nutrients, check out 20 Surprising Signs You Have a Vitamin Deficiency.

4
Manage your stress.

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According to the American Heart Association, the hormones that the body releases during times of stress (like cortisol and adrenaline) "prepare the body for the 'fight or flight' response" by constricting blood vessels—which, in turn, temporarily raises your blood pressure. Therefore, learning to limit your stress levels could be just as effective a remedy for hypertension as medication. And for more helpful information delivered to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

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