Some 68 million people in the U.S. suffer from high blood pressure, that’s one in three adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC. High blood pressure increases the risk for heart disease and stroke, leading causes of death in the United States. High blood pressure is called the “silent killer” because it often has no warning signs or symptoms, and many people don’t realize they have it. That’s why it’s important to get your blood pressure checked regularly.
The CDC recommends the following lifestyle changes to prevent high blood pressure:
• Eat a healthy diet. Eating healthfully can help keep your blood pressure down. Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, which provide nutrients such as potassium and fiber. Also, eat foods that are low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Avoid sodium by limiting the amount of salt you add to your food. Be aware that many processed foods and restaurant meals are high in sodium. Eating less sodium can help prevent or lower your risk of stroke. Current dietary guidelines recommend eating less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. If you are African American, 51 years of age or older, have high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease, you should further reduce sodium to 1,500 milligrams per day. Studies have shown that people who eat a healthy diet can lower their blood pressure. For more information on healthy diet and nutrition, see CDC’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Program Web site.
• Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight can raise your blood pressure. Losing weight can help you lower your blood pressure. I wrote My Ideal Weight last December. Losing as little as 10 pounds can reduce your blood pressure.
• To find out whether your weight is healthy, doctors often calculate a number called the body mass index (BMI). Doctors sometimes also use waist and hip measurements to measure a person’s excess body fat. I wrote a really useful post on how to measure body fat last year.
• Be physically active. Physical activity can help lower blood pressure. The Surgeon General recommends that adults should engage in moderate physical activities for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.
• Limit your alcohol intake. While small amounts of alcohol have been shown to reduce blood pressure, more than one drink a day for women and two for men could spell trouble.
• Caffeine intake should also be kept in check.
• Monitor your blood pressure regularly.
Last, but far from least, don’t smoke. I have written repeatedly about the damage smoking does to your body. Please don’t smoke. Check out my Page – How Many Ways Does Smoking Harm You? for a ton more reasons.
Nice hearing the refrain of eat less; move more; live longer from the CDC.