What Is Systolic Blood Pressure? How To Lower Them?

What is systolic blood pressure and how to lower them?

Systolic blood pressure (SBP), is the upper number in a blood pressure reading. This reading measures the force your heart exerts on the walls of your arteries each time it beats. It serves as a crucial indicator of cardiovascular health, reflecting how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls when the heart beats. 

As a leading marker for cardiac risk, high systolic pressure can signal potential health issues long before they become symptomatic, making it a vital metric for early detection and management of cardiovascular disease. Let’s explore the significance of systolic blood pressure, its impact on health, and the importance of maintaining it within a healthy range to prevent long-term complications.

What Is Systolic Blood Pressure?

Systolic blood pressure refers to the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats and pushes blood through your blood vessels. It is the higher of the two numbers in a blood pressure reading, and it measures the force exerted against the artery walls at the moment your heart pumps. 

Think of your arteries like flexible tubes. When your heart contracts, it creates a force that pushes blood through these tubes. This force, measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg), is your systolic blood pressure.

How to read blood pressure reading?
Systolic blood pressure vs diastolic blood pressure

Systolic blood pressure is a critical indicator of cardiovascular health, as consistently high readings can be a significant risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Understanding and managing SBP is essential for preventing long-term health complications, especially in older adults where the risk of hypertension increases.

Systolic Blood Pressure Vs Diastolic Blood Pressure

Systolic blood pressure measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart muscle contracts and pumps blood out into the arteries. Diastolic blood pressure (DBP) measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart muscle is resting between beats and refilling with blood.

While systolic pressure has been shown to be a more crucial marker of risk in older adults, diastolic pressure is vital for diagnosing and assessing the risk in younger individuals. Both numbers are important for a comprehensive assessment of cardiovascular health across all ages.

Managing both systolic and diastolic blood pressure through lifestyle changes and medication (where necessary) is crucial for preventing the long-term health effects associated with high blood pressure.

How To Lower Systolic Blood Pressure?

how to lower systolic blood pressure?
How to lower systolic blood pressure

Based on studies, there are several ways to try to lower Systolic blood pressure. Let’s take a look at how you can lower high SBP. 

Dietary Modifications

Adopting heart-healthy diets that are rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products, has been proven effective. This diet significantly lowers blood pressure by improving your dietary intake without excessive sodium consumption. 

A lower sodium intake helps reduce blood pressure levels. Studies have consistently shown that reducing salt in the diet can lower systolic blood pressure by affecting the fluid balance in the body, which in turn reduces the strain on blood vessels

Moreover, consuming more potassium-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, can counteract the effects of high sodium and help to relax blood vessels, leading to lowered SBP. This is particularly effective when combined with reduced sodium intake.

Regular Physical Activity

Engaging in regular aerobic exercise or dynamic resistance training can reduce SBP. This is evident from trials showing that even modest physical activity helps lower blood pressure significantly in both men and women with mild hypertension. 

Regular exercise strengthens the heart muscle, allowing it to pump more blood with less effort. This efficiency reduces the force on the arteries, thereby lowering systolic blood pressure. Additionally, physical activity promotes the dilation of blood vessels, improving their ability to expand and contract. Better vascular health contributes to lower resistance against the blood flow, which can decrease systolic blood pressure.

The most important process from regular physical activity is that it helps in managing and reducing the levels of stress hormones in the body, which can constrict blood vessels and increase blood pressure. By reducing these hormone levels, physical activity helps in maintaining a lower systolic blood pressure.

Stress Reduction

Techniques such as biofeedback, meditation, or yoga that help reduce stress can also assist in lowering blood pressure. Trials using biofeedback and relaxation techniques have found that these can decrease systolic blood pressure significantly, offering an alternative or complementary approach to traditional treatments.

Additionally, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is also used as a stress reduction technique to lower systolic blood pressure. MBSR is a structured program that combines mindfulness meditation and yoga to reduce stress. A meta-analysis found that MBSR leads to significant reductions in SBP. This approach not only helps in lowering blood pressure but also improves overall emotional well-being and stress management.

Medications

When lifestyle modifications are insufficient to achieve desired blood pressure levels, medications may be necessary. Different classes of drugs, including ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, diuretics, calcium channel blockers, and angiotensin receptor blockers, might be prescribed based on individual health needs and conditions.

Several medications are commonly used to lower systolic blood pressure, each working through different mechanisms to reduce the pressure exerted by blood on artery walls when the heart beats. Here are some of the key medications supported by studies:

  • Diuretics (Thiazide-type)
    Thiazide diuretics, such as chlorthalidone, are often recommended as the first line of treatment for hypertension, particularly for isolated systolic hypertension. They work by helping the kidneys eliminate sodium and water, which helps to reduce blood volume and pressure. A significant study on systolic hypertension in the elderly (SHEP) found that chlorthalidone effectively lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk of cardiovascular events.
  • Calcium Channel Blockers
    These drugs, such as amlodipine, lower blood pressure by relaxing the muscles of your heart and blood vessels. They are effective in reducing systolic blood pressure, especially in the elderly and those with stiff arteries. Research has shown that calcium channel blockers are particularly effective in lowering systolic pressure and preventing cardiovascular morbid events.
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors
    ACE inhibitors, such as lisinopril, work by blocking the formation of a chemical that narrows blood vessels, allowing blood to flow more easily and the heart to pump blood more efficiently. They are beneficial in patients with additional conditions such as heart failure or diabetes.
  • Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARBs)
    Similar to ACE inhibitors, ARBs, such as losartan, help relax blood vessels by blocking the action of angiotensin II, a chemical that narrows blood vessels.
  • Beta-Blockers
    These drugs reduce the workload on your heart and open your blood vessels, causing your heart to beat slower and with less force. However, studies suggest that beta-blockers may be less effective than other medications for the prevention of cardiovascular disease in the elderly with systolic hypertension. 

Maintaining Healthy Lifestyles To Keep Systolic Blood Pressure Low

In conclusion, managing systolic blood pressure is a multifaceted approach that involves a combination of lifestyle changes, stress management, and, when necessary, medication. By understanding the underlying causes and implementing effective strategies such as dietary modifications, regular physical activity, and stress reduction techniques, individuals can significantly reduce their systolic blood pressure. 

These efforts not only lower the risk of developing serious cardiovascular diseases but also enhance overall health and longevity. For those who require further intervention, a range of medications are available that target different mechanisms affecting blood pressure. It is crucial to regularly monitor blood pressure and consult healthcare professionals to tailor the most appropriate treatment plan, ensuring a proactive approach towards maintaining cardiovascular health.

Written by

Priyom holds a Ph.D. in Plant Biology and Biotechnology from the University of Madras, India. She is an active researcher and an experienced science writer. Priyom has also co-authored several original research articles that have been published in reputed peer-reviewed journals. She is also an avid reader and an amateur photographer.

Written by

Priyom holds a Ph.D. in Plant Biology and Biotechnology from the University of Madras, India. She is an active researcher and an experienced science writer. Priyom has also co-authored several original research articles that have been published in reputed peer-reviewed journals. She is also an avid reader and an amateur photographer.

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