High Blood Pressure: Risk Factors and Prevention

Even if your blood pressure is normal, chances are that you’re aware of at least one person suffering from this condition. Though millions of people suffer from hypertension, the exact causes of high blood pressure still have yet to be determined. However, there are a number of well-established risk factors that have been long known to be harmful to the circulatory system. Some of these risk factors are further detailed in the list below:

Age: Age might bring about more wisdom and experience, but it also carries with it a higher risk of hypertension.

Race: High blood pressure tends to be a more common problem among African-Americans than both whites and Hispanics.

Family Background: If hypertension has appeared in several members of your family tree, than you likely face an elevated threat of developing this condition at some point in the future.

Sedentary Lifestyles: Those who lead sedentary lives often have higher heart rates than their more active counterparts. In turn, these higher heart rates exert abnormally high levels of stress on the heart’s arteries.

Being Obese or Overweight: An overweight or obese person requires a greater amount of oxygen/ nutrients for his or her tissues. Consequently, the circulatory system must pump a higher amount of blood through the body, putting pressure on artery walls and increasing the body’s blood pressure.

Living with Certain Chronic Conditions: A number of chronic conditions – such as sleep apnea, diabetes and kidney disease – have been found to precipitate the onset of high blood pressure.

Tobacco Use: There are few habits that are more harmful to the body than tobacco use. Among other things, tobacco
chemicals can erode the stability of the artery walls, potentially forcing them to narrow in size. This has the effect of increasing blood pressure, as the heart must work harder to push blood through the circulatory system.

Keeping High Blood Pressure at Bay

Unfortunately, many people fail to take note of their blood pressure until they are diagnosed with hypertension. For those concerned about their blood pressure readings, the steps below can prove useful for warding off this chronic condition.

Shed Extra Weight: There are a number of problems with excess weight, including a greater risk of hypertension. While weight loss is not easy, dropping just ten pounds can have a positive impact on blood pressure.

Get Up Off the Couch: It might seem daunting for couch potatoes to begin an exercise regimen, but consider that 30 minutes of daily exercise can have a positive impact on blood pressure levels.

Eat Smart and Avoid Sodium: Not surprisingly, poor diet plays a major role in the high rates of hypertension in the United States. When shopping, do your best to avoid offerings that are high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Instead, focus on picking whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products.

In keeping with this goal, make sure not to consume an excessive amount of sodium. For most people, the safe limit for sodium intake is 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day. Foods high in sodium include bread, canned soup, canned vegetables and deli meats.

Put Away the Beer (and Liquor): Alcohol can be enjoyed in moderation, but excessive alcohol consumption can lead to numerous problems, including high blood pressure. A good rule of thumb is for men under 65 to limit themselves to two alcoholic drinks per day; for everyone else, one drink should suffice. As far as alcoholic beverages are concerned, a single drink is equivalent to 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor.

Put Away the Smokes (for Good): There are endless reasons to quit smoking, including its negative effect on your circulatory system. People who finally kick their butts to the curb often see their blood pressure readings return to healthier levels.

Check In Regularly With Your Doctor: It’s understandable why people are generally loathe to go to the doctor’s office, since no one wants to hear bad news. The problem with skipping doctor’s visits, of course, is that doing so allows serious health problems to develop unnoticed. As unpleasant as a trip to the doctor’s office may be, your body will thank you for it.

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