High blood pressure (hypertension) has many causes. Some are unavoidable (like growing older!). Others are a result of lifestyle choices.

Unavoidable things that raise your risk:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Family history – your genes
  • Related diseases like diabetes 1

Risk factors you can change 2 :

  • High salt (sodium) in what you eat
  • Not enough potassium in your diet
  • Too little exercise
  • Tobacco and alcohol use
  • Being over-weight

In other words, a lifestyle that includes healthy eating and getting exercise can lower the risk of getting high blood pressure, and help reduce your blood pressure if it is already high.
So does stopping smoking and reducing alcohol.

What should I do to reduce my risk of getting high blood pressure?

  • Eat less than 1,500 mg of salt a day
  • Eat fruits and vegetables high in potassium (bananas, oranges, potatoes or sweet potatoes)
  • Eat only small amounts of saturated fats like margarine and butter
  • Keep daily alcohol to under 2 drinks a day for men and 1 drink for women
  • Stop smoking
  • Exercise daily
  • Reduce stress 2

FUN TIP:  Small changes in blood pressure make big changes in your health! Lowering your systolic blood pressure by 10 mmHg, or your diastolic blood pressure by 5 mmHg can make a difference.

  1. National High Blood Pressure Education Program. The Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure
  1. https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/ risk_factors.htm

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