Do you know how many people have high blood pressure in the United States? According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2010), there are 50 million people that have high blood pressure and 59 million people that have pre-hypertension-blood pressure; the cost of treating high blood pressure will be $76. 6 billion in 2010. Moreover, high blood pressure increases a person’s risk of heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure, and kidney disease; that is why high blood pressure often is labeled as a “silent killer” ( Rubin,2000). However, the causes of high blood pressure are strongly associated with a person’s lifestyle.
Having a healthy lifestyle can prevent high blood pressure. On the other hand, some people are not aware how their lifestyles can affect their blood pressure, especially middle aged adults who lack knowledge on healthy living. It is important to educate them on how to modify lifestyles to prevent high blood pressure. There are five ways to prevent high blood pressure. The first way to prevent high blood pressure is to maintain regular physical activities. If you have been inactive in your daily life, you might want to catch up with some daily exercises.
According to Rubin (2000), a regular physical activity not only strengthens the muscles involved in body movement but also makes the heart stronger. Rubin also notes that as the heart pumps more blood to the tissues, arteries open up, so more nutrients flow into the tissues to keep blood pressure under control. One study shows people who are physically active have a lower risk of getting high blood pressure than those who are inactive (MacMahon, 1987). You don’t have to be a marathon runner to benefit from physical activity; even light activities, if done daily, can help lower your risk.
It also shows 30 to 60 minutes physical activity five days of a week can lower your blood pressure by 4 to 9mmHg and it does not take long to see a difference (MacMahon). This is the easiest and cheapest way to lower your blood pressure. A half hour walks with your family three or four times a week will help lower your blood pressure. If you have been sedentary, increasing your activity can lower your blood pressure within just a few weeks. The second way to prevent high blood pressure is to maintain normal body weight. If you are overweight, you may want to lose some weight.
According the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), the data shows that “the higher the BMI is in individuals the greater is the prevalence of hypertension” (Fig. 1) (Pi-Sunver, 2009). Figure 1 Age-adjusted prevalence of hypertension vs. BMI (Pi-Sunver). As you can see in the chart, the chance of getting high blood pressure will increase with higher body weight. Many studies also showed high blood pressure is associated with obesity, such as the Framingham study: “ in men, every increase 10% of one’s weight, systolic blood pressure increased by 6. mm Hg” (Pi-Sunver). There is evidence demonstrating if people lose weight, the blood pressure will drop (Pi-Sunver). Maintaining normal body weight is a very important way to prevent high blood pressure; losing just a few extra pounds can help lower blood pressure. The third way to prevent high blood pressure is to reduce salt intake in diet. According to the American Heart Association (2010), eating too much salt makes your blood vessels swell and fill with fluid; this puts an extra strain on the heart and can lead to high blood pressure.
According to the article “Why Should I Limit Sodium? ” salt can damage your blood vessels as well as your heart. The current recommendation is to eat less than 2300mg of salt daily. However, most Americans eat about 2900 to 4300 mg of salt per day (American Heart Association, 2010). One study shows that following the current daily recommendation not only lowers blood pressure significantly but also decreases risk of stroke, heart disease, and heart failure (Baliga ; Narula, 2009).
Eating low salt diet has benefits for both lowering your blood pressure and reducing chance having other diseases. Some high sodium foods that you should avoid include salted snacks, ham, bacon, corned beef, sausages, hot dogs, cheeses, and canned foods. Instead, eat fresh lean meats, skinless poultry, fish, egg whites, and choose unsalted nuts, low-salt peanut butter( American Heart Association,2010). The fourth way to prevent high blood pressure is to follow the “DASH diet. ” “DASH” diet stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet.
The DASH diet recommends that people eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low fat foods for daily diet. According to the National Heart, Lung, Blood Institute (NHLBI)(2010), two studies showed that eating a diet low in saturated fat, cholesterol and that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and low fat milk eating plan can reduce high blood pressure. This eating plan, which also includes whole grain products, fish, poultry, and nuts, is rich in “potassium, magnesium, calcium, protein and fiber” (p. 11). New research shows that ollowing the DASH diet over-time not only helps to prevent high blood pressure but also help to reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, cancer, and obesity (p. 12). This new research also shows that a combination of DASH diet and deceased salt intake (to 1500mg) has the greatest effect on high blood pressure, and it will not take long to see the difference (p. 13). In summary, adhering to the DASH diet with less than 1500mg of salt intake daily will benefit your health significantly.