Lifestyle Changes

High Blood Pressure Risk Factors That YOU Can Control

HealthCentral Editorial Team Oct 4th, 2012 (updated Apr 29th, 2014)
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Lose weight
Lose weight

Around one-third of people with high blood pressure are overweight. The risk of hypertension doubles for moderately obese people in comparison to those with a normal, healthy weight. Obese children and teens develop a greater risk for high blood pressure when they reach adulthood. 

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Eat less salt
Eat less salt

The body uses sodium to regulate blood pressure and volume. Too much sodium can lead to high bloood pressure. The USDA recommends a daily limit of 2,300 mg of sodium or one teaspoon of salt a day. Eat no more than 1,500 mg of sodium or 2/3 a teaspoon,  If you are over the age of 50, African-American. or have a history of high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease. 

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Drink less alcohol
Drink less alcohol

Drinking alcohol increases blood pressure levels. More than one drink can elevate blood pressure in women. For men, blood pressure rises after two drinks. 

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Quit smoking
Quit smoking

Smoking is one of the biggest risk factors for high blood pressure and heart disease. Nicotine in cigarettes can raise blood pressure.  If you don't smoke, avoid being exposed to second hand smoke. 

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Exercise
Exercise

Exercising can reduce blood pressure levels. It's recommended that adults get at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity a week or around 30 minutes 5 times a week.

Walk around the neighborhood. Ride a bicycle. Dance. Choose activities that will keep your heart pumping. In addition to cardio, lift some weights and do strength training at least twice a week.