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 to lose their stretchiness and become stiff or narrow.
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).
“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.