Under Pressure

5 Ways to Prevent High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is one of the most prevalent and preventable risks for heart disease. Hypertension can be genetic and may increase with age, but there are also a number of factors that are very manageable, helping you prevent high blood pressure to the best of your ability. And like the other manageable risk factors for heart disease, it centers on lifestyle.

1. Eat Well

For most people, a low-sodium diet can make a huge difference in blood pressure. As many as 90 percent of Americans consume too much sodium, due in large part to the high amount of sodium in processed and restaurant foods. Eating a balanced diet with a high amount of diverse fruits and vegetables and eliminating fats, sugars, and processed foods can contribute to a normal blood pressure.

2. Stay Active

Exercise is essential to preventing high blood pressure. The more exercise the better, but even moderate activity – such as 30 minutes, three times a week – can help. When you exercise, your heart uses oxygen more efficiently and therefore doesn’t need to work as hard to pump, which in turn lowers your blood pressure.

3. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Eating well and staying active both further another significant prevention method for hypertension: weight management. If you’re overweight, losing even a little weight can reduce the strain on your heart and lower your blood pressure.

4. Don’t Smoke

It can’t be said enough: Cigarette smoking only causes harm. In addition to a range of other health risks, smoking raises your blood pressure, also increasing your risk of heart attack and stroke. If you’re looking for support for smoking cessation, your physician can help direct you to programs and resources that may be right for you.

5. Keep Track

Living well lays the foundation for healthy blood pressure, but hypertension remains a symptomless condition. Regular readings are the only way to monitor your blood pressure and ensure you can respond to any changes if the need arises. Blood pressure measurements are available both at your physician’s office and most pharmacies.