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Five Ways to Prevent High Blood Pressure

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Updated January 23, 2008

Preventing high blood pressure involves understanding the risk factors and making smart decisions about what you can, and cannot, control. Simple things like choosing a more distant parking spot and having vegetables at each meal make a large impact on your overall risk profile. By focusing your energy on modifiable factors and working with your doctor, you can do more than you may realize to prevent the development of high blood pressure

Understand Your Risk Factors

A variety of factors contribute to the development of high blood pressure. Familiarity with the most important risk factors will help you understand which areas need focus as well as which areas are under control. Also important is the idea that not all risk factors can be controlled. Family history of high blood pressure, for example, is an important risk factor but cannot be changed. Paying attention to the factors you can change and understanding those you cannot is the first step to avoiding high blood pressure.

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Maintain a Healthy Diet

Salt, vitamins, minerals and other components of your diet play a large role in the health of your cardiovascular system and the condition of your blood vessels – both of which are important factors in the prevention of high blood pressure. In addition to controlling salt intake, eating a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals is a powerful way to safeguard your body against many diseases. Specific foods have been shown to help prevent high blood pressure, and others are suspected to have some protective effects on the cardiovascular system in general. Modifying your diet will also help with weight control.

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Make Lifestyle & Habit Changes

Smoking, obesity, and drinking too much alcohol all contribute to the development of high blood pressure. These lifestyle choices are all within your control to change, and making positive changes in these areas will not only help prevent high blood pressure, but will likely add years to your life. Along with a healthy diet, controlling body weight is one of the most important changes that you can make right now to help prevent high blood pressure. Quitting smoking usually results in rapid reductions in blood pressure and helps reverse blood vessel damage that could later lead to blood pressure problems.

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Exercise More

Regular physical activity is an important step in keeping the cardiovascular system toned and the blood vessels healthy. A toned cardiovascular system works more efficiently, requiring less pressure to propel the blood through the blood vessels. Healthy blood vessels are more resilient to the forces generated by flowing blood and adapt better to changing blood flow without causing increased blood pressure. Exercise does not require fancy clothes, a gym membership, or a personal trainer. Walking, shopping, housework and taking the stairs all contribute to your exercise goal.

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Visit Your Doctor

Preventative medicine is a powerful weapon in the fight against high blood pressure. Regular visits to the doctor can help identify and address any potential problems while they are still in the early stage. People who have an existing medical condition typically take regular doctor visits as a matter of course, but people who are generally healthy tend to put off visiting the doctor because “nothing is wrong.” Doctors are not just for people who are already sick. Studies have shown that regular doctor visits help prevent disease and that people who see their doctor regularly are more healthy and live longer than those who do not.

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