How to Avoid High Blood Pressure

Three Methods:Eating a Healthy DietStaying FitManaging Stress

High blood pressure or hypertension is a major risk factor for heart disease and failure, strokes, and kidney disease.[1] Make sure to have your blood pressure checked regularly and either lower it or keep it low to avoid serious long-term health complications. A blood pressure of 140/90 (150/90 in those who are 60 years of age and older) or greater is considered high. [2] You can avoid high blood pressure by eating a healthy diet, staying fit, and managing stress.

Method 1
Eating a Healthy Diet

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    Incorporate vegetables, fruits, whole grains and low-fat dairy products into your daily diet. Certain nutrients have been found to help prevent high blood pressure: potassium, calcium, magnesium, and omega-3s. There is no need to take supplements of these nutrients if you have a well-balanced diet.[3]
    • Potassium: Good sources of potassium include winter squash, sweet potatoes, and yogurt.[4]
    • Calcium: Surprising sources of calcium include white beans, canned salmon and dried figs.[5]
    • Magnesium: Almonds, cashew, and tofu are all great sources of magnesium.[6]
    • Omega-3s: Excellent sources of omega-3s include tuna, walnuts, and broccoli.[7]
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    Decrease the amount of salt you consume. To reduce salt consumption, read food labels closely and cut back on processed and restaurant foods. Also, use spices and herbs as seasoning instead of salt. More than 75% of the salt consumed is in restaurant and processed foods. Dietary guidelines state that everyone over the age of 2 should consume less than 2,300 mg of salt daily. Some groups of people should reduce their intake to 1,500 mg a day, including those who are 51 years of age or older, of African American descent, or have high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease.[8]
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    Reduce your alcohol intake. Experts recommend that two drinks per day for men (one drink for men who are 65 and older) and one drink per day for women of any age are acceptable alcohol consumption levels. While having more than three drinks in one sitting can raise your blood pressure temporarily, long-term increases occur with continued binge drinking.[9] Scale back your alcohol consumption or substitute an alcoholic beverage for a non-alcoholic one.
    • One drink is considered to be 12 ounces (355 ml) of beer, 5 ounces (148 ml) of wine or 1.5 ounces (44 ml) of 80-proof distilled spirits.[10]
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    Limit your caffeine intake. Studies show that caffeine can cause instant blood pressure spikes.[11] It’s recommended to drink no more than two cups (200 ml) of coffee per day. Other significant sources of caffeine include chocolate, soda, and energy drinks. All should be consumed in smaller quantities as well.[12]

Method 2
Staying Fit

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    Exercise regularly to maintain a healthy blood pressure. Being physically active lowers your risk of high blood pressure by 20% to 50%.[13] Doctors recommend 30 to 60 minutes of exercise each day, or a total of 150 minutes per week. It is important to be consistent.[14] Your systolic blood pressure can be lowered by as much as 5 to 10 mm of mercury from exercise.[15]
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    Keep your weight within a healthy range. You are 2 to 6 times more likely to develop high blood pressure if you are overweight or obese.[16]
    • By maintaining a healthy weight, your waist is trimmed down, too. Experts claim that a large waist circumference can be a predictor of high blood pressure and heart disease. Studies show that waist measurements of 40 inches (102 cm) or more for men, 35 inches (89 cm) or more for women are linked to high blood pressure. Waist measurements vary by ethnicity. For example, for Asian men, the linked waist measurement is 36 inches (90 cm) or more and 32 inches (81 cm) or more for Asian women.[17]
    • While the mechanism of its role is still unknown, one theory is that peripheral insulin resistance leads to impaired glucose intolerance and hyperinsulinemia. While a variety of mechanisms have been proposed to explain how hyperinsulinemia leads to increased hypertension, none have been proven definitively.
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    Get enough sleep every night. Sleeping 7 to 8 hours every night may help prevent high blood pressure. Sleep helps to keep your nervous system healthy and to regulate stress hormones. Too little sleep, less than 6 hours, could hurt your body’s ability to regulate stress hormones over time.[18]
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    Stop the use of all tobacco products and avoid secondhand smoke. Blood pressure is temporarily increased for many minutes after a cigarette is smoked. Atherosclerosis (fatty buildups in arteries), cancer, and other lung problems can also be caused by smoking and secondhand smoke exposure.[19]
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    Nip problems in the bud early. If your blood pressure is occasionally high, but not that way every time you go to the doctor, you may still have a problem. Studies indicate that occasional high blood pressure can be a sign of a chronic problem in the future or even a strong predictor of strokes. Discuss this with your doctor. By catching any problems now, you may be able to alleviate problems in the future.[20]

Method 3
Managing Stress

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    Identify different areas of stress in your life. Blood pressure is directly impacted by stress. When you’re in a stressful situation, your blood pressure is increased by a sudden increase in hormones.[21] It is important to note what triggers stress for you so you can work on managing it. Some common stresses include job loss, death, marriage, and moving.[22]
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    Reduce or eliminate stresses through physical activities. Yoga, meditation, and deep relaxation techniques can all help lower your stress levels. Yoga and meditation also not only relax you and strengthen your body, but also may lower your systolic blood pressure by 5 mm Hg or more.[23]
    • Yoga: Yoga consists of a series of movements or postures that increase strength and flexibility. Another part of yoga is controlling your breathing, which helps to quiet your mind and control your body.[24]
    • Meditation: Meditation involves focusing your attention and eliminating thoughts that may be cluttering your mind, which may result in physical and emotional well-being improvements.[25]
    • Deep Relaxation: Deep relaxation includes controlling your breath as well as contracting and relaxing different muscle groups, leading to a more calm state of mind.[26]
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    Learn effective mental stress coping techniques. We all handle stress in different ways; however, some ways like overeating work against lowering blood pressure. More helpful methods include positive reframing, seeking support, problem-solving, and adjusting expectations.
    • Positive reframing: Note the positive or upbeat aspects of the situation.
    • Seeking support: Ask for help or emotional support from friends, family members or medical professionals.
    • Problem-solving: Find the source of the problem and determine a solution.
    • Adjusting Expectations: Change your anticipated outcomes as different scenarios unfold. [27]

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Article Info

Categories: Cardiovascular Health and Blood Pressure