There are several ways to reduce blood pressure for testing, sometimes called a physical. Job applicants, employees, students and athletes are some of the hopefuls who must undergo testing to qualify for a position where health status is a factor in the determination process. A patient may not have the time required to use some of the tools available for managing hypertension. Blood pressure testing is only one aspect involved in a physical, but the blood pressure facet is the primary concern for now.
Breathe deep for 15 minutes before testing. Shallow breathing increases blood pressure. Deep respiration requires more exhale than the inhale. Inhale through the nose, holding the count to five or six seconds. Let the abdomen expand, rather than the chest, and exhale through the mouth one second longer than the inhale.
Drink 20 oz. of beet juice. Beet juice contains nitrate, a component that dilates blood vessels and increased blood flow. Participants in a study conducted by St Bartholomew's Hospital in London showed a decrease in blood pressure in less than one hour after drinking 20 oz. of beet juice. In 2.5 hours, the participants saw a significant reduction in blood pressure.
Take a brisk walk for at least 15 to 20 minutes. While at least 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week can reduce blood pressure overall and is effective for managing hypertension, a patient may not have the time necessary for regular exercise to have a significant effect on blood pressure before a test. However, even a short walk produces rhythmic breathing, which decreases blood pressure by calming the body’s stress response. Moreover, the extra oxygen increase helps the heart use oxygen more efficiently, thereby decreasing the stress or pressure on the heart.
Drink a glass of water. Water has a calming effect on the nervous system, and water flushes out sodium, an element that increases blood pressure. Drink a larger portion of water at one time, rather than sipping on water at several intervals during the day. Sipping water throughout the day is good for staying hydrated, but for a faster effect on blood pressure, drink a glass of water for direct calming effects and a drop in blood pressure.
Eat a banana or other potassium-rich food. Potassium is an electrolyte, and plays a significant role in some of the mechanisms that control blood flow and heartbeat. Potassium supplements may take four to six weeks before having an impact on blood pressure. Depending on how fast the body metabolizes the foods rich in potassium, blood pressure may drop within an hour or two of eating a potassium-rich food. See Resources for a list of potassium-rich foods.
Avoid unhealthy foods and habits before visiting the clinic for testing. Refrain from smoking at least one hour before the appointment, as smoke decreases oxygen intake and makes the heart work harder. Avoid fatty meals, which often contain lots of sodium and increase blood pressure, at least two days before the physical.
Take a nap before testing or visiting the clinic. Research conducted at the Liverpool John Moores University in Liverpool, U.K., found that naps reduce strain and pressure on the heart. Take a nap, no longer than one hour long, before an appointment for testing.
Avoid making a morning appointment and tell the clinician about testing anxiety. Morning hypertension is common, as blood pressure is higher in the morning. Many patients experience a white-coat syndrome, where blood pressure may increase at a doctor’s office beyond its normal level.