NEW YORK (CBS 2) — High blood pressure is one of the most common diseases and a top risk factor for heart attacks, but medications aren’t the only treatment.

CBS 2’s Dr. Holly Phillips gives us some alternative approaches to bring down blood pressure.

Larry Stack survived an emergency triple bypass and now he suffers from high blood pressure and looks to alternative treatments to help control the illness.

“You realize ‘I could have been dead’ and that’s the bottom line,” Stack said, “after you come so close to not making it, you become really open to things that are maybe out of the box.”

And research shows treatments considered “outside of the box” can be extremely effective in the treatment of high blood pressure.

For instance, activities that emphasize breathing like yoga and Tai Chi can help.

A recent study showed the daily practice of slow breathing for 15 minutes a day lowered blood pressure significantly, Phillips reported. Exercise is also crucial. Cardiologist Dr. Merle Myerson of St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital said just 30 minutes for 4 days a weeks makes a difference.

“Just being more active has been shown to lower blood pressure, in fact, lower both the upper number: the systolic blood pressure as well as the lower number: the diastolic blood pressure,” Myerson said.

“In the morning, I do push-ups and sit-ups and at night, I do the bicycle or treadmill,” Stack said.

Controlling stress, although not always easy, may be the most powerful natural treatment to bring down your blood pressure. Blood pressure increases when a person is under emotions stress and tension, so a number of recent studies have focused on psychological interventions for stress reduction.

Following the DASH Diet of low cholesterol foods, and plenty of fruits and vegetables can even replace the need for medication.

“Studies by the National Institutes of Health have shown that in some patients the DASH diet can bring blood pressure to goal,” Myerson said.

Herbal treatments like Ginseng, and supplements like Omega 3’s hold promise, but it’s too soon for most doctors to recommend them as part of a standard treatment plan.

“They’re not FDA regulated, so we often don’t know the dose we don’t know if they’re pure compounds and we really don’t know all the side effects,” Myerson said.

But many — including Larry Stack — are happy to think out of the box and be out of the woods with their health.

“You really have to learn to love yourself in a very different way, the things you worried about before, well, you get very realistic,” Stack said.

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