Preventing and Managing High Blood PressureLast updated: May 01, 2013
High blood pressure (or hypertension) is one of the most common health problems affecting people in the United States. If you are among millions of Americans with high blood pressure, then you are at increased risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, and vascular problems.
The best way to prevent, reduce, and manage high blood pressure is to adopt and maintain healthy dietary and behavioral lifestyle practices.
Blood Pressure Measurements
If your blood pressure measures 120/80 mm Hg or less, then it is within a healthy range. But blood pressure can change at any time with changes that accompany aging, being overweight or obese, weight gain, smoking, inactivity, having too much salt in your diet, drinking too much alcohol, stress, and other health problems such as chronic kidney disease, adrenal disease, and thyroid disorders. Genetics also has a role in blood pressure. For example, if your parents have high blood pressure, you might also be prone to the condition.
If your blood pressure measures 129 to 139 mmHg / 80 to 85 mm Hg, it is categorized as borderline high (or prehypertension); and if your blood pressure measures ≥140/90 mm Hg at 2 or more readings, it is high. Borderline high blood pressure usually tends to worsen. Chronically high blood pressure is unhealthy and has ill effects such as hardening of the arteries. For these reasons, it's important to act immediately to lower your blood pressure!
If you have high blood pressure, you can help lower it by:
- Visiting your doctor for regular blood pressure checks
- Not smoking
- Exercising regularly
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Limiting alcohol to 2.3 or fewer grams per day
- Reducing dietary fat, especially saturated fat and cholesterol
- Taking your blood pressure medications as prescribed
- Ensuring to get enough potassium, calcium, and magnesium in your diet
- Avoiding appetite suppressants, decongestants, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications
- Reducing stress with relaxation techniques and adopting a positive approach for aggravations