In the previous articles, we discussed basic information about high blood pressure, how high blood pressure affects your body, and risk factors for high blood pressure. In this article, we are going to review methods to help prevent high blood pressure. First, let’s review the risk factors for high blood pressure.
There are two types of risk factors:
those which you can modify, and
those which cannot be modified.
Modifiable risk factors are those that you have some control over, such as:
Cigarette smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke,
Obesity or being overweight,
Diet (high in sodium, low in potassium, and consuming too much alcohol),
Your willingness to make changes and reduce these risks are up to you. We will talk more about that in a minute.
Non-modifiable risk factors are those components that cannot be modified or are difficult to control, such as:
Family history of high blood pressure
Chronic kidney disease
Obstructive sleep apnea
Again, these risk factors are elements that you cannot change, but should be aware of.
Lifestyle modifications can help to minimize the modifiable risk factors.
Smoking: If you smoke or use tobacco, you are at greater risk for high blood pressure. Nicotine in cigarette smoke increases the heart rate, blood pressure, and ability of the heart to contract strongly and efficiently. This can potentially damage the circulatory system over time. Quitting smoking can reduce this risk, in addition to other health benefits.
Overweight or obesity: There are several clinical studies which show a link between obesity and high blood pressure. Eating a healthy diet, staying physically active, and losing those extra pounds can significantly lower your risk for high blood pressure.
Diet: You are in control over what you consume daily. Processed foods high in sodium can add to your blood pressure risk. The DASH diet is recommended if it is determined you are at increased risk for high blood pressure. You should also monitor the amount of saturated fats, which can contribute to hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases.
Physical inactivity: Lack of physical activity is a major contributing factor in developing high blood pressure. It has been proven in several studies that increasing physical activity can reduce blood pressure. Here are some examples of how you can increase your physical activity:
Walk Whenever Possible
Take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator
Take a family walk after dinner
Park farther from the store and walk
Walk briskly in the mall
Move More In Your Home
Do yard work. Get your children to help rake, weed, or plant
Work around the house. Ask your children to help with active chores
Wash the car by hand
Use a snow shovel instead of a snow blower
Join an exercise group, and enroll your children in community sports teams or lessons
Do sit-ups in front of the TV. Have a sit-up competition with your kids
Choose an activity that fits into your daily life/lives
Play with your kids at least 30 minutes a day
Click here to learn more ways to increase your physical activity.
Being aware of your risk factors, especially those you are able to control, can help you live a healthier lifestyle and prevent high blood pressure! If you currently do not have risk factors for high blood pressure, it is still possible to develop high blood pressure. Therefore, be diligent in maintaining a healthy lifestyle in order to avoid this silent killer.
American Heart Association. (n.d.). What is High Blood Pressure? Retrieved March 16, 2021, from https://www.heart.org/-/media/files/health-topics/answers-by-heart/what-is-high-blood-pressure.pdf
Babu, G. R., Murthy, G., Ana, Y., Patel, P., R, D., Neelon, S. E., . . . Reddy, K. S. (2018). Association of obesity with hypertension and type 2 diabetes mellitus in India: A meta-analysis of observational studies. World Journal of Diabetes, 9(1), 40-52. doi:10.4239/wjd.v9.i1.40
Chaturvedi, P., Mishra, A., Datta, S., Sinukumar, S., Joshi, P., & Garg, A. (2015). Harmful effects of nicotine. Indian Journal of Medical and Paediatric Oncology,36(1), 24. doi:10.4103/0971-5851.151771