How to lower systolic blood pressure (2023)

If you or someone you know has high blood pressure (hypertension), you may want to learn more about how to lower your systolic blood pressure.

If the maximum number for your blood pressure reading is 130 or higher, youhigh systolic blood pressure. This can be due to lifestyle choices such as smoking, age, genes and medical conditions such as thyroid disease. Consistently high systolic pressure is sufficient for the diagnosishigh pressure-even if the lowest number, yoursdiastolic pressure, is normal.

While finding out you have high systolic blood pressure can be worrying, it's also an opportunity to take action and reduce your risk of serious events such asheart attack,AVC, even death.

This article discusses what high systolic blood pressure is, how you can lower it, and how to prevent complications with lifestyle changes and medications.

How to lower systolic blood pressure (1)

How to read your blood pressure

Blood pressure readings have two numbers: asystolicpressure and adiastolicpressure, given in units of milligrams of mercury (mm Hg).

The top number is the systolic blood pressure, which is the pressure created by the heart pumping blood through the arteries. The bottom number is the diastolic blood pressure, which is the pressure in the arteries while the heart is relaxing.

A normal blood pressure is less than 120 systolic and less than 80 diastolic.A systolic blood pressure of 120 is considered elevated, even with a normal diastolic reading.

Hypertensiondiagnosed with a systolic reading of 130 or greater, or a diastolic reading of 80 or greater.

Blood pressure categories
Systolic (mm Hg)Diastolic (mm Hg)
Normal blood pressure<120<80
high blood pressure120s<80

Both systolic and diastolic measurements are important when examining the health of your heart. A high systolic reading is the most common form of high blood pressure, especially in older people, due to hardening of the arteries over time.

Isolated Systolic Hypertension

Isolated systolic hypertension is any blood pressure in which the systolic blood pressure is elevated while the diastolic blood pressure is normal. Generally, when health professionals use this term, they are referring to situations where the systolic pressure is significantly higher than normal.

This condition is much more common in the elderly due to the hardening of the arteries that occurs with age. However, isolated systolic hypertension can occur in younger adults and, when it does, is associated with an increased risk of heart disease later in life.

Studies have shown that treating high levels of systolic blood pressure consistently reduces the risk of complications, regardless of how high the diastolic reading is.However, this can be a particularly challenging situation in older adults who experience more side effects from blood pressure medications.

In addition, diastolic pressure is important because coronary arteries fill during diastole, and diastolic pressure less than 60 mm Hg increases the risk of cardiac events.Therefore, people with isolated systolic hypertension whose diastolic pressure is normal may have problems if blood pressure medications lower diastolic pressure too much.

People with high systolic blood pressure may benefit from lowering their blood pressure, including lifestyle changes and medications.


High systolic blood pressure can have many causes. As we age, our arteries harden and over time this contributes to an increase in blood pressure. The genes we inherit may also play a role. Certain underlying conditions such as thyroid disease, excess cortisol, and obesity can also cause high blood pressure.

How to lower systolic blood pressure

There are many steps you can take to lower your blood pressure, including lifestyle changes and medications.

Medicines canreduction in systolic blood pressure over a few hours to days. Lifestyle changes, such as exercise and a healthy diet, may take several weeks to make a difference.

Diet to lower blood pressure

The most powerful lifestyle change to lower blood pressure is implementing a healthy diet. Making changes to your diet can lower your systolic blood pressure by up to 11 points.

American Heart Association (AHA) recommendation aDASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)to help lower blood pressure. The DASH diet is low in salt, added sugars, and red and processed meats.

(Video) keep systolic blood pressure below 130mmhg

Some additional dietary guidelines include:

  • Focus on eating colorful fruits and vegetables, as their high potassium content can help lower blood pressure.
  • Choose whole grains whenever possible and limit white flours, such as those found in white bread and pasta.
  • Avoid sugary drinks like juices and soft drinks and watch out for salt in processed and canned foods.
  • Limit your intake of saturated fat by choosing lean meats such as skinless chicken and turkey.
  • Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy.

How to cut back on sodium

According to the AHA, you can reduce your sodium intake by:

  • Choose carefully packaged, canned, and prepared foods that are low in sodium
  • Drain and rinse the beans or canned vegetables
  • Selection of fresh and frozen birds not injected with sodium solution
  • Limit high-sodium condiments such as soy sauce, bottled salad dressings, ketchup, pickles, etc.
  • Add flavor to your food using garlic, onions, herbs, spices, citrus fruits and vinegars
  • Control your portion size


Exercise can help lower systolic blood pressure by 5 to 8 points.

The AHA recommends that all adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise each week.Aerobic exercise is exercise that increases the heart rate, such as walking, cycling, dancing and water aerobics.

Resistance training

Adding resistance training to your workout can further lower your blood pressure, as well as help preserve muscle mass.Examples of resistance training include exercises such as squats, planks, yoga and weight lifting.

Alcohol limit

Excessive alcohol consumption can contribute to high systolic blood pressure. Limiting alcohol intake can lower systolic blood pressure by up to 4 points.

Alcohol should be limited to no more than two standard drinks per day for men and no more than one drink per day for women. A standard drink is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor.

stop smoking

Although it is not so clear that quitting smoking directly lowers systolic blood pressure, it will certainly reduce the risk of certain complications of high blood pressure.

The nicotine in cigarettes causes the arteries to constrict, resulting in a temporary increase in blood pressure. Smoking also causes fatty plaque to build up in the arteries, which can lead to strokes and heart attacks.

Benefits of resignation

Quitting smoking can add up to 10 years to your life expectancy.

Caffeine limit

Although chronic caffeine use has not been shown to contribute to high blood pressure, caffeine does cause a temporary increase in blood pressure. This is because caffeine is a vasoconstrictor, which causes blood vessels to narrow.

In people with high blood pressure, caffeine should be limited to no more than 300 milligrams per day.For reference, a 12-ounce "tall" cup of Starbucks coffee contains 235 milligrams of caffeine.

reduce stress

Stress is known to contribute to high blood pressure, and managing stress is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Both short-term stressors, such as losing your job, and chronic stressors, such as relationship problems, can contribute to high blood pressure.

Although not yet definitively linked to lowering blood pressure, practices such as yoga, meditation, psychotherapy, and breathing exercises can help combat stress that can contribute to high blood pressure.

Getting a good night's sleep can also help relieve stress. Poor sleep quality or lack of sleep can increase stress hormone levels, which can increase blood pressure.

Take antihypertensive medication

The above lifestyle changes can be helpful for anyone with high blood pressure, including those with isolated systolic blood pressure. But people with persistently high systolic blood pressure may need blood pressure-lowering drugs (antihypertensive drugs) to help lower their blood pressure to healthy levels.

Many different classes of drugs may be prescribed by your doctor to lower your systolic blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Some of the most commonly prescribed medications that are effective in lowering blood pressure include:


  • diuretics, such as Hygroton (chlorthalidone) and Microzide (hydrochlorothiazide)
  • ACE inhibitorsand angiotensin receptor blockers such as Zestril (lisinopril) and Diovan (valsartan)
  • Calcium channel blockers, such as Norvasc (amlodipine) and Adalat CC (nifedipine)
  • beta blockers, such as Coreg (carvedilol) and Trandate (labetalol)

Blood pressure-lowering medications can pose challenges in older adults with isolated systolic hypertension due to side effects.

orthostatic hypotension, low blood pressure when standing, can cause dizziness and is a more common side effect in older people treated for high blood pressure. It can lead to increased falls and hip fractures, which are thought to be more common in older adults who use blood pressure medications compared to those who do not use blood pressure medications.

The choice of blood pressure medication is important in the elderly with systolic hypertension. However, there does not appear to be any benefit of one drug class over another when only one drug is needed, with the exception of β-blockers.Beta-blockers are not recommended as first-line therapy unless there is another compelling reason, such as coexisting heart failure.

The combination ofACE inhibitorwith a calcium channel blocker has been shown to provide better results than combining an ACE inhibitor with a diuretic. For this reason, many healthcare professionals prefer to first prescribe a long-acting calcium channel blocker, such as Norvasc, to older adults with high blood pressure and add an ACE inhibitor if needed for additional blood pressure control.

Another important part of treating systolic hypertension in older adults is starting new medications at lower doses and increasing the doses more slowly. This is because the elderly have slower metabolism and clearance of the drug and therefore more side effects.

Medicines used to treat high blood pressure

Avoid certain medications and supplements if you have high blood pressure

Avoiding substances that can raise blood pressure is just as important as making lifestyle changes and taking blood pressure medications.

Here is a list of substances to avoid if you have high blood pressure:

  • Over-the-counter "decongestant" cold medicines that contain pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine, such as Sudafed
  • Chronic use of NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as Motrin (ibuprofen), Advil (ibuprofen), and Aleve (naproxen)
  • black licorice
  • Cocaine

Blood pressure monitoring at home

The AHA recommends home monitoring for everyone with high blood pressure. This is to help healthcare professionals determine whether treatments are working.

It is best to use cuff devices instead of wrist devices as they provide more reliable readings. Be sure to read the instructions carefully before use.

When measuring your blood pressure, it is important to:

  • Sit quietly for a few minutes before taking a measurement.
  • Measure on the skin, not on the clothes
  • Avoid taking measurements immediately after eating, smoking or exercising
  • Sit in the correct position (feet on the floor with legs uncrossed)
  • Stay still while reading
  • Take several measurements and record the results.
  • Count at the same time every day

When to consult a health care professional

High blood pressure is a serious condition that can lead to stroke, heart attack and even death if left untreated. Although there are many things you can do at home to lower your systolic blood pressure, it's important to follow all of your doctor's treatment recommendations.

If you experience a severe headache, blurred vision, drooping on one side of your face, weakness on one side of your body, chest pain, or other alarming symptoms, seek medical help immediately.

What is dangerously high systolic pressure?

If your blood pressure readings are suddenly higher than 180/120 mmHg, wait five minutes and check again. If it is still elevated, contact your doctor immediately as this may indicate ahypertensive crisis.


High systolic blood pressure is a very common condition that can increase your risk of serious health problems, such as stroke and heart attack. Finding out you have high systolic blood pressure can be stressful, but it's also an opportunity to make some healthy changes that can have a significant impact on your overall health.

Dietary changes, exercise, drug use, and starting blood pressure medication can all help. Talk to your doctor about starting a treatment plan.

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(Video) Why is my Systolic Blood Pressure High?

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts in our articles. Read ourseditorial processto learn more about how we verify and keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.

  1. American Heart Association.Understanding blood pressure readings.

  2. Whelton PK, Carey RM, Aronow WS, et al.2017 ACC/AHA/AAPA/ABC/ACPM/AGS/APhA/ASH/ASPC/NMA/PCNA guideline for the prevention, detection, evaluation, and treatment of high blood pressure in adults: a report from the American College of Cardiology/American Task Force Force from the Heart Association on Clinical Practice Guidelines.Hypertension. 2018; 71 (6). doi:10.1161/HYP.0000000000000065

  3. Yano Y, Stamler J, Garside DB, et al.Isolated systolic hypertension in young and middle-aged adults and 31-year risk of cardiovascular mortality: Chicago Heart Association Detection Project in Industry study.J Am Coll Cardiol, 2015; 65(4):327-335. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2014.10.060

  4. Li J, Somers VK, Gao X, et al.Evaluation of the ideal diastolic blood pressure range among adults with treated systolic blood pressure below 130 mm Hg.JAMA Netw Open.2021;4(2):e2037554. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.37554

  5. American Heart Association.Managing blood pressure with a heart-healthy diet.

  6. American Heart Association.How to cut back on sodium.

  7. American Heart Association.American Heart Association recommendations for physical activity in adults and children.

  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Alcohol and public health.

  9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Smoking and tobacco use: benefits of quitting.

  10. Starbucks.Pike Place Nutritional Information.

  11. Dar T, Radfar A, Abohashem S, Pitman RK, Tawakol A, Osborne MT.Psychosocial stress and cardiovascular diseases.Curr Treat Options Cardiovasc Med. 2019; 21 (5): 23. doi:10.1007/s11936-019-0724-5

  12. American Heart Association.Elevated stress hormones are associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure and heart attacks.

  13. American Heart Association.Types of blood pressure medications.

  14. Tinetti ME, Han L, Lee DS, et al.Antihypertensive medications and serious fall injuries in a nationally representative sample of older adults.JAMA Intern Med. 2014; 174 (4): 588-595. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.14764

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    (Video) What are the Diastolic Implications of Aggressive Systolic Blood Pressure-Lowering?

How to lower systolic blood pressure (2)

WithAngela Ryan Lee, MD
Angela Ryan Lee, MD, is board certified in cardiovascular disease and internal medicine. He is a member of the American College of Cardiology and holds certifications from the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology and the National Board of Echocardiography. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Virginia with a B.S. in Biology, medical school at Jefferson Medical College, and a residency in internal medicine and cardiovascular disease at George Washington University Hospital. His professional interests include preventive cardiology, medical journalism and health policy.

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How to lower systolic blood pressure? ›

Isolated systolic hypertension can be caused by conditions such as: Artery stiffness. An overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) Diabetes.

How do I get my systolic blood pressure down? ›

Important changes include:
  1. Eating a healthy diet.
  2. Decreasing the amount of salt in the diet.
  3. Losing weight when indicated.
  4. Increasing physical activity to at least 150 minutes a week of moderate physical activity.
  5. Drinking alcohol in moderation, if you choose to drink.

What would cause systolic blood pressure to be high? ›

Isolated systolic hypertension can be caused by conditions such as: Artery stiffness. An overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) Diabetes.

How do you get rid of systolic hypertension naturally? ›

Here are 10 lifestyle changes that can lower blood pressure and keep it down.
  1. Lose extra pounds and watch your waistline. ...
  2. Exercise regularly. ...
  3. Eat a healthy diet. ...
  4. Reduce salt (sodium) in your diet. ...
  5. Limit alcohol. ...
  6. Get a good night's sleep. ...
  7. Reduce stress. ...
  8. Monitor your blood pressure at home and get regular checkups.

Does water lower systolic blood pressure? ›

Still, you can make lifestyle changes to bring your blood pressure down. Something as simple as keeping yourself hydrated by drinking six to eight glasses of water every day improves blood pressure. Water makes up 73% of the human heart,¹ so no other liquid is better at controlling blood pressure.

Which is worse high systolic or high? ›

However, most studies show a greater risk of stroke and heart disease related to higher systolic pressures compared with elevated diastolic pressures. That's especially true in people ages 50 and older, which is why doctors tend to monitor the top number more closely.

Why is my systolic high but not my diastolic? ›

The bottom line. Isolated systolic hypertension is when your systolic blood pressure is high, but your diastolic blood pressure is normal. It can occur naturally with age or can be caused by specific health conditions, including anemia, diabetes, and hyperthyroidism.

Can stress cause high systolic? ›

Stress can cause a steep rise in blood pressure. But when stress goes away, blood pressure returns to what it was before the stress. However, short spikes in blood pressure can cause heart attacks or strokes and may also damage blood vessels, the heart and the kidneys over time.

Does walking lower systolic blood pressure? ›

Walking lowers systolic blood pressure by 4.11 mm Hg (95% CI, 3.01 to 5.22 mm Hg). It lowers diastolic blood pressure by 1.79 mm Hg (95% CI, 1.07 to 2.51 mm Hg) and resting heart rate by 2.76 beats per minute (bpm; 95% CI, 0.95 to 4.57 bpm).

How long does it take to lower systolic blood pressure? ›

It takes about 1 to 3 months for regular exercise to have an impact on blood pressure. The benefits last only as long as you continue to exercise.

Can systolic blood pressure be controlled? ›

If high blood pressure isn't controlled with lifestyle changes and medication, it can lead to serious health problems, including cardiovascular disease (such as heart disease and stroke), vascular dementia, eye problems, and kidney disease. The good news is that blood pressure can be controlled in most people.

Can dehydration cause high systolic? ›

When you're dehydrated, sodium levels in your blood typically rise. Your system responds by releasing more of a hormone called vasopressin, which works to help your body hang on to water. Vasopressin also can cause your blood vessels to tighten, or constrict, which makes your blood pressure rise.

How can I lower my systolic blood pressure without diastolic? ›

How is isolated systolic hypertension treated?
  1. Eating less salt (maximum of 1.5 grams per day).
  2. Following the DASH diet.
  3. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables.
  4. Decreasing fatty dairy intake.
  5. Decreasing intake of saturated fats.
  6. Losing weight.
  7. Exercising more.
  8. Limiting your intake of beverages that contain alcohol.
Jan 31, 2023

Is lemon water good for lowering blood pressure? ›

Lemon drink contains traces of several minerals that may be beneficial in lowering blood pressure. Calcium and potassium both can lower blood pressure in those suffering from hypertension. A study suggests that lemon water can help bring the number to the normal range immediately.

Which is worse high systolic or diastolic? ›

Over the years, research has found that both numbers are equally important in monitoring heart health. However, most studies show a greater risk of stroke and heart disease related to higher systolic pressures compared with elevated diastolic pressures.

What foods lower systolic blood pressure? ›

Beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, and avocado are other potassium-rich foods that may help lower blood pressure naturally. Kiwifruit: According to one study, eating three kiwifruit daily can help dramatically lower blood pressure. Kiwi is delicious chopped up in fruit salad or sprinkled on top of plain yogurt.

What are the symptoms of high systolic? ›

However, a healthcare professional may look for signs of a medical condition that could have caused isolated systolic hypertension, including :
  • sweating.
  • muscle weakness.
  • thinning skin.
  • loud snoring.
  • depression.
  • tremor.

When should you worry about systolic blood pressure? ›

For example, a healthy reading is below 120 over less than 80. If your systolic blood pressure is higher than 130 but your diastolic blood pressure is under 80, that's called isolated systolic hypertension. It's the most common kind of high blood pressure in older people.


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