Learn to Recognize and Manage High Blood Pressure Risk Factors
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, affects nearly half of all American adults. Many do not even know they have high blood pressure because this health condition has little to no side effects. But if left undiagnosed and untreated, it can increase the risk of developing heart disease in women and men. In support of American Heart Month, we urge everyone to prioritize their heart health by learning to recognize and manage high blood pressure risk factors.
Common Risk Factors of High Blood Pressure
Many different factors can be to blame for raising your risk of high blood pressure. While some, like age and family history, are out of your control, other factors can be recognized and managed to protect your heart health.
Elevated Blood Pressure
Those with blood pressure levels slightly above recommended guidelines (120/80) have what is known as elevated blood pressure. Elevated blood pressure is one factor that may increase your risk of developing chronic high blood pressure in the future. Since elevated blood pressure may develop slowly over time, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the best prevention method.
6 Ways to Keep Your Blood Pressure in a Healthy Range
- Eating a healthy balanced diet
- Being physically active
- Quitting smoking
- Managing diabetes
- Taking prescribed medication
- Reducing the consumption of alcoholic beverages
A Diabetes Diagnosis
Diabetes and high blood pressure go hand-in-hand. In fact, two out of every three people with diabetes have high blood pressure or are taking prescription medications to lower it.
Diabetes causes an increase of sugars in the blood and can also increase your risk of developing heart disease. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, it’s important to closely monitor your heart health under the direction of a health care professional.
Your Lifestyle Choices
The lifestyle choices you make every day will influence whether or not you become diagnosed with high blood pressure. For example, a diet high in sodium and low in potassium significantly increases your risk of hypertension.
Physical inactivity also tops the list of high blood pressure risk factors to watch. Regular physical activity keeps the heart and blood vessels healthy. An active lifestyle helps with maintaining a healthy weight, which will lower your risk of developing hypertension as well.
Obesity will also influence your blood pressure levels. Excess body fat causes the heart to work harder to pump blood and oxygen throughout the body, in turn adding stress on your heart muscles and blood vessels.
Alcohol and Drug Use
Drinking too much alcohol has also been found to raise blood pressure levels. It’s recommended that women have no more than one drink a day, while men limit alcohol consumption to two drinks a day.
Tobacco use may be problematic to your heart health as well. Smoking has been proven to damage the heart and blood vessels, while nicotine will raise blood pressure.
How to Manage Your High Blood Pressure Risk Factors
If you think you might be at risk, today is the day to start managing your high blood pressure risk factors. Anyone can improve heart health today by taking these steps:
- Losing weight
- Quitting smoking
- Reducing sodium intake
- Lowering stress levels
- Limiting alcohol consumption
As you start your new healthy living plan, don’t forget to reach out to your local health center to consult a health care professional for more personalized guidance.
Let Us Guide YOU to Healthier Living!
Family Health Centers is bringing a new kind of health care to your community. We offer affordable, quality health services to everyone in the neighborhood, regardless of insurance status or the ability to pay.