Trying to control and prevent high blood pressure can help reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, and many other medical conditions. Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure can seriously increase the risk of developing severe health problems. While the previous standard of high blood pressure used to be 140/90 mmHg, in 2017, the American Health Association (AHA) and American Academy of Cardiology (ACC) provided new guidelines for high blood pressure that changed the standard of hypertension to 130/80 mmHg or higher. Under these recent guidelines, almost half of the American population meets the definition of high blood pressure.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), what’s even more alarming is that only about a quarter of adults with high blood pressure in the U.S. have their condition controlled.
There are many hypertension risk factors such as your age, family history, and ethnicity that are beyond your control. So when it comes to reducing the risk of high blood pressure, you should focus on the risk factors that you can change.
Hypertension Prevention Factors You Can Control
Even though it is not always possible to control the condition, there are certain steps you can take and healthy lifestyle choices you can make to prevent hypertension and reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure.Maintain a Healthy Weight
Your weight plays a significant role when it comes to high blood pressure prevention. According to a research study, the prevalence of hypertension in overweight individuals aged 20 to 39 years was twice that of people with a normal weight and 3 times higher than that of those underweight.
While those who are overweight should try losing weight, those of normal weight should maintain a healthy lifestyle to avoid gaining extra pounds. Everyone should attempt to maintain a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI). Those with a BMI of 25 and higher are considered to be overweight, so the goal should be to achieve a healthy body weight that constitutes for a BMI lower than 25.
The American Health Association (AHA) also suggests that losing as little as 10 pounds can help in the prevention of high blood pressure.
Have A Healthy And Balanced Diet
Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet is a key factor in keeping your blood pressure under control. Saturated fat, trans fat, and sugar can be detrimental to your health; not only do they increase your weight, but they also lead to hypertension problems. Consuming a healthy diet that consists of plenty of healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables can be a great way to remain healthy while controlling your blood pressure.
Also known as DASH, those with hypertension or high blood pressure risks should follow the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, according to the AHA. This eating plan recommends those at the risk of hypertension to consume plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, while limiting red meat, sweets, and sodium.
A balance or healthy diet also includes limiting sugary drinks and alcohol. Consuming too many processed drinks and juice places you at a risk of obesity, which eventually leads to blood pressure issues. When it comes to alcohol, the AHA recommends that women should have no more than one drink a day, while men can have no more than two.
Reduce Your Salt Intake
Having a low-sodium diet can help maintain normal blood pressure levels for many people. The higher your sodium consumption, they higher your blood pressure will be. You can reduce your overall salt intake by avoiding processed foods with high sodium content, and also refrain from adding too much salt to your meals. A 2017 research revealed that over 400 adults with prehypertension were able to lower their systolic blood pressure by following the DASH diet and reducing their sodium intake.
Regular exercise is a major part of a healthy lifestyle. Physical activity keeps you fit and reduces the risk of many health problems such as high blood pressure and heart disease. The more you engage in physical activity, the better for your health, but even squeezing in a few minutes of exercise in your daily routine can help control your blood pressure.
According to the AHA, an adult should spend at least 150 minutes engaging in moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercises per week. Apart from aerobics, you should also try some sort of muscle-strengthening activity such as resistance training at least twice a week.
Even though association between stress and blood pressure is still under research, stress is widely known to contribute to hypertension. According to the AHA, amongst many other factors such as alcohol consumption and an unhealthy diet, stress also plays a significant role in increase your risk of hypertension. Even though sometimes stress is almost impossible to avoid, there are still a few ways to help combat it. The AHA recommends individuals to manage their stress and high blood pressure through meditation.
Monitor Your Blood Pressure
One of the best ways to prevent high blood pressure is to monitor and maintain it. Whether at home or at your doctor’s office, make sure to get your blood pressure measured regularly. High blood pressure often occurs without any symptoms, which is why blood pressure readings are mandatory to tell you if your blood pressure is on the rise.
The Bottom Line
If you’re at the risk of developing hypertension, especially due to genetics and family history, you need to be extra careful. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet, regular exercise, and managing stress is mandatory when it comes to preventing high blood pressure.