Monday, November 28, 2011

How to prevent high blood pressure or hypertension

About 1 of 3 adults has high blood pressure, which increases the risk for heart disease and stroke, the major causes of death. High blood pressure is called the "silent killer" because it often has no warning signs or symptoms, and many people don't realize they have it. That's why it's important to get your blood pressure checked regularly. The good news is that you can take steps to prevent high blood pressure, or to treat it if it is already high. Here is the information as provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Increases in blood pressure increases your risk for heart disease. People at any age can take steps each day to keep blood pressure levels normal.


  • Eat a healthy diet. Eating healthfully can help keep your blood pressure down. Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, which provide nutrients such as potassium and fiber. Also, eat foods that are low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
    Avoid sodium by limiting the amount of salt you add to your food. Be aware that many processed foods and restaurant meals are high in sodium.
    Studies1 have shown that people who eat a healthy diet can lower their blood pressure. For more information on healthy diet and nutrition.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight can raise your blood pressure. Losing weight can help you lower your blood pressure.
    To find out whether your weight is healthy, doctors often calculate a number called the body mass index (BMI). Doctors sometimes also use waist and hip measurements to measure a person’s excess body fat.
    Be physically active. Physical activity can help lower blood pressure. The Surgeon General recommends that adults should engage in moderate physical activities for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.
  • Don't smoke. Smoking injures blood vessels and speeds up the hardening of the arteries. Further, smoking is a major risk for heart disease and stroke.
  • If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for heart disease and stroke. Your doctor can suggest programs to help you quit.
    Limit alcohol use. Drinking too much alcohol is associated with high blood pressure.
  • If you drink alcohol, you should do so in moderation—no more than one drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men.
    What You Can Do
  • Check your blood pressure. Getting your blood pressure checked is important because high blood pressure often has no symptoms.
    Your doctor can measure your blood pressure, or you can use a machine available at many pharmacies. You can also use a home monitoring device to measure your blood pressure.
    Blood pressure is written as two numbers. The first (systolic) number represents the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats. The second (diastolic) number represents the pressure in your vessels when your heart rests between beats.
Blood Pressure Levels
Systolic: less than 120 mmHg
Diastolic: less than 80 mmHg
At risk (prehypertension)
Systolic: 120–139 mmHg
Diastolic: 80–89 mmHg
Systolic: 140 mmHg or higher
Diastolic: 90 mmHg or higher

Prevent or Treat Your Medical Conditions

  • Prevent and manage diabetes. You can reduce your risk of diabetes by eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and being physically active.
    About 60% of people who have diabetes also have high blood pressure.2 If you have diabetes, you can lower your risk for high blood pressure by following the healthy guidelines listed here.
    Treat high blood pressure. If you already have high blood pressure, your doctor may prescribe medications in addition to lifestyle changes.
  • All drugs may have side effects, so talk with your doctor on a regular basis. As your blood pressure improves, your doctor will want to monitor it often.
    Lifestyle changes are just as important as taking medications.

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