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Tips to Reduce High Blood Pressure and Risk of Heart Disease

June 22, 2011

According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 68 million people in the U.S have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. Hypertension increases the risk for heart disease and stroke, the first and third leading causes of death.

Blood pressure that is slightly higher than normal is called prehypertension, which affects 28% of American adults, and makes them more likely to develop high blood pressure.

Quit smoking to reduce hypertensionWho Has High Blood Pressure:

  • In the United States, high blood pressure is more common among blacks than whites. About 44% of black women have high blood pressure.
  • Mexican-Americans have the lowest level of hypertension compared to non-Hispanic whites and
High Blood Pressure and Salt
  • A diet high in sodium (salt) increases the risk for higher blood pressure.
  • Most people eat more than double the amount of salt than they should.
  • About 77% of the sodium Americans consume comes from processed and restaurant foods.

Current dietary guidelines for Americans recommend that adults in general should consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. At the same time, consume potassium-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables.

However, you should consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day if you: are 51 years of age or older, are African American, have high blood pressure, are diabetic, or have chronic kidney disease.

What to do:

  • Have your blood pressure checked regularly.
  • Maintain a normal body weight.
  • Take at least 1 brisk 10-minute walk, 3 times a day, 5 days a week.
  • Follow a healthy eating plan of a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and low in sodium.
  • Quit smoking.
  • If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation (no more than 2 drinks per day for men and no more than 1 drink per day for women).
  • If you have high blood pressure and are prescribed medication(s), take as directed.