Every year, 2 million new patients are diagnosed with high blood pressure every year in the United States. Although you can’t change the genes that you received from your parents, you can change many lifestyle behaviors to prevent high blood pressure. For starters, all adults should be screened for high blood pressure at least every two years. Other changes you can make include:
- Reducing your stress using humor
- Increasing your potassium intake by eating more fruits and vegetables
- Reducing daily salt intake to less than 6,000 milligrams (1 teaspoon), which is equal to 2,400 milligrams of sodium
- Keeping alcohol intake to two drinks or less per day
- Controlling your weight through diet and exercise
Many studies on stress and high blood pressure result in inconsistent findings, but one fact is certain: Reducing the level of stress in your life can only do you good. The less stressed you are, the less likely you are to overeat, smoke, and drink excessively — all factors known to cause high blood pressure. One great form of stress reduction is laughter.
The significance of an inactive lifestyle in the development of high blood pressure is clear. In study after study, people who exercise more have a lower incidence of high blood pressure, and active lifestyles promote weight control.
All the techniques that prevent high blood pressure can also help lower blood pressure after it is present. But the greatest differences between prevention and treatment are the costs and risks of the medication that most people need to treat their high blood pressure. If you can prevent high blood pressure, do everything in your power to do so. You won’t be sorry.