Best Way To Prevent High Blood Pressure
Maintaining a healthy weight may be the most important thing you can do to help protect against developing high blood pressure as you get older. This conclusion comes from a 25-year-long investigation at the University of Alabama. The study focused on analyzing the long-term effects of five different health behaviors on blood pressure among 4,630 participants who were age 18 to 30 when the study began. The other behaviors tracked were never smoking, consuming zero to seven alcoholic drinks per week for women and zero to 14 for men, engaging in 150 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week, and maintaining a healthy diet, based on the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) plan. Over the course of 25 years, the researchers checked the participants’ blood pressure and health behaviors on 8 separate occasions.
Results showed that those who maintained a body mass index (BMI) of less than 25 were 41 percent less likely to see their blood pressure go up as they aged. Neither diet nor exercise made an apparent difference by themselves, while not smoking and not drinking alcohol at all or consuming it in moderation were associated with less incidence of high blood pressure over the years, but the researches said further study is needed to confirm this. They also found that participants who maintained at least four of the health behaviors were 27 percent more likely to maintain a normal blood pressure throughout the study.
My take? These findings are useful, although they certainly don’t mean that you can just watch your weight; and that smoking, following an unhealthy diet, consuming too much alcohol or being sedentary are all OK. All these behaviors contribute to other serious health risks. You should keep in mind that exercise is both supportive of maintaining weight and a reliable strategy to shed extra pounds. If your blood pressure is edging up, even a 10 percent weight loss can help lower and control it. It is also beneficial to practice relaxation techniques, which can influence the tone of blood vessels. Meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, and biofeedback training all can help.
John N. Booth et al, “Maintenance of Optimal Health Behaviors Over 25 Years and Cumulative Blood Pressure Burden: Prospective Data From the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study.” Presentation at American Heart Association Council on Hypertension, September 14, 2017
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