Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

Controlling your blood pressure can make a big difference to your health over time.

Controlling your blood pressure can make a big difference to your health over time.
beginning of content

How to lower blood pressure

5-minute read

More than a third of adults have high blood pressure. More than half of them are over 60, but many are younger. Could you be one of them?

Check your blood pressure

High blood pressure is common and often has no symptoms. The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure checked.

Health professionals such as nurses, pharmacists and doctors can check your blood pressure with a simple test.

High blood pressure increases your risk of having a heart attack or stroke, but there are things you can do to lower your blood pressure.

Reducing your blood pressure can make a big difference to your health and help prevent development of stroke or heart disease.

ARE YOU AT RISK? — Are you at risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease or kidney disease? Use our Risk Checker to find out.

Keeping blood pressure healthy

The following steps towards a healthier lifestyle can help you lower your blood pressure and keep it at a healthy level.

Physical activity

Australians aged 18 to 64 years are recommended to get 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate-intensity physical activity a week. Moderate-intensity physical activity is any activity that increases your heart and breathing rate and may make you sweat, but you are still able to hold a normal conversation, such as brisk walking, dancing, cycling or swimming.

This level of activity is a good start to help improve your health and help prevent development of chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.

People aged 65 and over should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a day.

If you're not used to exercising, don't start too quickly. Talk to your doctor about how much exercise will suit you, and build up slowly.

Lose weight

Exercising and eating healthily will help you lose weight. Obesity increases your risk of high blood pressure, so it's important to be a healthy weight. If you want to lose weight, it's important to combine healthy eating with regular exercise and physical activity.

If you want to lose weight, you may need to build up to 45 to 60 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days of the week.

Healthy eating

A healthy, balanced diet will help reduce your blood pressure.

Australians are recommended to:

  • enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods from these 5 groups every day:
    • plenty of vegetables, including different types and colours, and legumes/beans
    • fruit
    • grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high-fibre cereal varieties, such as bread, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, polenta, couscous, oats, quinoa and barley
    • lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, and legumes/beans
    • milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or their alternatives, mostly reduced fat (reduced fat milks are not suitable for children under 2 years)
  • drink plenty of water
  • limit intake of foods containing saturated fat, added salt, added sugars and alcohol

See Eat For Health for more information about healthy diet recommendations for Australians.

Cut your salt intake

Too much salt can raise your blood pressure. Australian adults are recommended to consume less than 6mg of salt a day — that’s around a teaspoon.

One easy way to eat less salt is to stop adding salt to your food during cooking and at the dinner table. If you regularly add salt to food when cooking, try cutting it out or adding less: you'll rediscover the real tastes of your favourite foods. And when you sit down to eat, taste your food first to see if it needs salt.

Read nutrition labels when you're shopping to help you buy healthier foods. Look for low-salt foods — those with less than 120mg sodium per 100g.

Limit your alcohol intake

Regularly drinking more than the recommended daily limits puts you at risk of several health problems, including high blood pressure.

The recommended healthy limits for alcohol are:

  • For healthy men and women, drinking no more than 2 standard drinks on any day reduces your risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury over a lifetime.
  • Drinking no more than 4 standard drinks on a single occasion reduces the risk of alcohol-related injury arising from that occasion.

You should be aware of the amount of alcohol in a standard drink.

Beer (full strength) 4.8% alc 285ml glass (midi or pot) 1.1 standard drinks
Red wine 13% alc 150ml average restaurant serving 1.5 standard drinks
White wine 11.5% alc 150ml average restaurant serving 1.4 standard drinks
Champagne 12% alc 150ml average restaurant serving 1.4 standard drinks
Spirits (high strength) 40% alc 30ml nip — 1 standard drink

Quit smoking

The nicotine in cigarettes can temporarily raise your blood pressure, and smoking also raises the risk of heart disease. Stopping smoking reduces this risk and is especially important if you have high blood pressure.

Medicines for high blood pressure

Some people with high blood pressure need to take medication to lower their blood pressure, as well as making the healthy lifestyle changes above. Talk to your doctor about whether you need medication for high blood pressure.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) also recommends that you regularly review with your doctor or specialist any medications you are taking for high blood pressure or high cholesterol to assess the ongoing benefits and risks.

The RACGP recommends that if you have raised blood pressure and are concerned about cardiovascular disease but are low risk, talk to your doctor or specialist about whether the benefits will outweigh the risks involved with taking medication to lower your blood pressure.

For further information, visit the Choosing Wisely Australia website.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: August 2020


Back To Top

Recommended links

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

High blood pressure and salt

If you have high blood pressure, lowering your salt intake may reduce your blood pressure.

Read more on Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute website

High blood pressure treatments - myDr.com.au

If you have high blood pressure your doctor may recommend lifestyle measures, such as diet and exercise, and possibly also medicines to control your blood pressure. Find out about the different options.

Read more on myDr website

High blood pressure in pregnancy

High blood pressure in pregnancy is a common medical problem that usually disappears after the birth. It may signal a serious condition called pre-eclampsia.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

High blood pressure should be treated - myDr.com.au

Having hypertension (high blood pressure) increases your risk of serious conditions such as stroke and heart attack. Find out when to have your blood pressure checked and what to do if yours is high.

Read more on myDr website

Blood pressure - Better Health Channel

Healthy eating and lifestyle changes can help to manage high blood pressure.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Five foods to help lower blood pressure

One the easiest steps you can take to prevent high blood pressure is choosing healthy foods.

Read more on Heart Foundation website

New Year's health resolutions - myDr.com.au

New Year is a good time to think about making lifestyle changes that will benefit our health: quit smoking, eat a healthy diet, exercise and reduce alcohol intake.

Read more on myDr website

How can what I eat improve high blood pressure? - Dietitians Australia

Medical How can what I eat improve high blood pressure? How can what I eat improve high blood pressure? Having high blood pressure increases the risk of developing heart disease and stroke

Read more on Dietitians Australia website

Pulmonary hypertension - Better Health Channel

Pulmonary hypertension is high blood pressure on the lungs.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Managing gestational diabetes

Managing gestational diabetes through diet, exercise and monitoring your blood glucose levels will helps both you and your baby. Learn how to do it here.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo