High blood pressure is known as the silent killer because of its significant health impact but no noticeable symptoms. For those who have been diagnosed with high blood pressure through regular screening, there are many options to return blood pressure to a normal level.
Low-dose aspirin, also known as “baby” aspirin, has long been considered a method to lower cardiovascular events. However, its abilities lie primarily in thinning the blood and preventing blood clots, not in lowering blood pressure. For those with high blood pressure, a doctor can discuss lifestyle changes to implement or blood pressure medication.
What Is High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, occurs when the force exerted by your blood against the walls of your blood vessels (blood pressure) is consistently too high.
High blood pressure can be damaging to the circulatory system, starting by increasing the amount of work required by the heart and blood vessels. When blood pressure is high, they have to work harder but also less efficiently.
Over time, high blood pressure can damage the delicate tissues inside the arteries, which can cause tiny tears. These tears then provide a place where LDL (bad) cholesterol can build up, forming plaque and causing atherosclerosis. As this plaque builds up, the narrower the arteries become, which further raises blood pressure.
If left unchecked, these conditions can lead to heart attacks, arrhythmias, or stroke.
Blood pressure is measured in two numbers: systolic and diastolic, and high blood pressure is considered with a systolic blood pressure of 130 mm Hg or greater or a diastolic blood pressure of 80 mm Hg or greater. The higher these numbers, the higher your blood pressure.
What Is Aspirin?
Aspirin is a type of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) which helps to relieve pain, lower inflammation, and reduce fever.
Can Aspirin Lower Blood Pressure?
When taken daily in a low dose, aspirin may help to lower the risk of cardiovascular events. However, it is not safe for everyone, and the FDA only recommends using aspirin for this purpose with doctor supervision.
Some doctors may administer aspirin immediately after a stroke, heart attack, or other cardiovascular event to prevent further clot formation.
Despite its ability to improve cardiovascular health, it does not directly lower blood pressure. However, its ability to thin out the blood can benefit those with high blood pressure. There are also some studies finding that taking aspirin at bedtime (versus taking it when waking in the morning) does significantly lower blood pressure.
Who Should Take Aspirin?
Daily low-dose aspirin is often recommended for those who:
- have evidence of poor blood flow to the brain
- have a heart or blood vessel disease
- have high blood pressure
- have high cholesterol
- have diabetes
How To Lower Blood Pressure?
In addition to blood pressure medication, there are some lifestyle changes that can help you to lower your blood pressure.
Eat a Healthier Diet
As always, it is important to focus on a diet high in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats. To help reduce blood pressure, it is best to avoid salt, red meat, and processed foods.
Doctors typically recommend that patients with high blood pressure follow the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, which promotes foods high in magnesium, potassium, protein, fiber, and calcium. Additionally, it focuses on limiting fat, sodium, and sugar intake.
The DASH diet has been shown to reduce blood pressure in those with prehypertension or stage 1 hypertension after just a few weeks.
Regular Physical Activity
No matter the type of physical activity that you prefer, they both have shown improvements in blood pressure.
A study on aerobic activity (cardio) showed that aerobic exercise reduced blood pressure in participants who were hypertensive and normotensive. This reduction was also observed no matter the participant’s weight.
Another study on resistance training (weightlifting) showed significant reduction in blood pressure in participants who were normotensive or prehypertensive.
However, these results are only observed in those who make exercise a regular habit, which is why it is crucial to find an activity that you enjoy doing and can stick with.
Smoking can negatively impact cardiovascular health due to the way that nicotine narrows veins and increases heart rate. These two actions then raise blood pressure.
Unlike some of these other changes, which may not see results for a few months, quitting smoking will improve your blood pressure almost instantly.
Just a few minutes after your last cigarette, your heart rate and blood pressure will drop. By the time you’ve gone one day without a cigarette, the amount of nicotine in your blood drops to zero, opening up your veins and arteries and further decreasing blood pressure. These benefits continue to be observed the longer you go without smoking, and by the time you’ve gone a year without smoking, your heart attack risk is half that of an active smoker.
When to See a Doctor?
High blood pressure does not present with any symptoms, which is why it is essential to undergo regular screening. For those between the ages of 18 and 40, you should see a doctor for a blood pressure check every 3 to 5 years. For those older than 40, these screenings become an annual need.
Once diagnosed with high blood pressure, it is important to discuss with your doctor what can be done to lower your blood pressure levels, including if you should consider daily low-dose aspirin or a blood pressure medication.
Get Help From an Online Doctor
If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure and are curious about taking daily low-dose aspirin, DrHouse can connect you with an online doctor in minutes to discuss this option.
Your doctor can go over your health and lifestyle history to determine if this is a good choice for you or if another medication, specifically aimed at lowering blood pressure, may be better.
High blood pressure is often considered a silent killer because it does not present with any symptoms but can cause significant damage to the cardiovascular system. Low-dose aspirin is often considered to help improve cardiovascular disease, but evidence supporting its ability to lower blood pressure is limited. However, it can help to thin the blood and prevent blood clots, which can then help those with high blood pressure.
Those with high blood pressure often see the most success in lifestyle changes such as healthy eating, regular exercise, and quitting smoking. If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, meeting with an online doctor can help you to discuss what lifestyle changes to implement, or if a blood pressure medication is needed.
- What is High Blood Pressure?. (2022). Retrieved 21 July 2022, from https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/the-facts-about-high-blood-pressure/what-is-high-blood-pressure
- Aspirin for Reducing Your Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke. (2019). Retrieved 21 July 2022, from https://www.fda.gov/drugs/safe-daily-use-aspirin/aspirin-reducing-your-risk-heart-attack-and-stroke-know-facts
- Bonten, T., Snoep, J., Assendelft, W., Zwaginga, J., Eikenboom, J., & Huisman, M. et al. (2015). Time-Dependent Effects of Aspirin on Blood Pressure and Morning Platelet Reactivity. Hypertension, 65(4), 743-750. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1161/hypertensionaha.114.04980
- Juraschek, S., Miller, E., Weaver, C., & Appel, L. (2017). Effects of Sodium Reduction and the DASH Diet in Relation to Baseline Blood Pressure. Journal Of The American College Of Cardiology, 70(23), 2841-2848. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1016/j.jacc.2017.10.011
- Whelton, S., Chin, A., Xin, X., & He, J. (2002). Effect of Aerobic Exercise on Blood Pressure. Annals Of Internal Medicine, 136(7), 493. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.7326/0003-4819-136-7-200204020-00006
- Cornelissen, V., Fagard, R., Coeckelberghs, E., & Vanhees, L. (2011). Impact of Resistance Training on Blood Pressure and Other Cardiovascular Risk Factors. Hypertension, 58(5), 950-958. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1161/hypertensionaha.111.177071
DrHouse articles are written by MDs, NPs, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. The contents of the DrHouse site are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are experiencing high fever (>103F/39.4C), shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pain, heart palpitations, abnormal bruising, abnormal bleeding, extreme fatigue, dizziness, new weakness or paralysis, difficulty with speech, confusion, extreme pain in any body part, or inability to remain hydrated or keep down fluids or feel you may have any other life-threatening condition, please go to the emergency department or call 911 immediately.