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Avoid High Blood Pressure By Making Simple, Lifestyle Changes

Posted June 4, 2002

— High blood pressure is serious business. It can increase your chance of getting heart or kidney disease or of having a stroke. If you are over age 55, your risk of developing high blood pressure could be as high as 90 percent, according to the long-running Framingham Heart Study. However, researchers say that many cases can be avoided by making simple lifestyle changes.

First, if you are overweight, take off some extra pounds. Losing five to 15 pounds can bring about significant reductions in blood pressure, and when you combine exercise with weight loss, the results get even better.

Experts say you should gradually try to get active for at least 30 minutes a day five days a week. Be sure to check with your doctor before starting your exercise program.

Experts say you should cut back on sodium. Aim for 2,400 milligrams of sodium per day, which is about the amount that you get in 1 teaspoon of salt.

Make sure you get 1,200 to 1,500 milligrams of calcium a day. Calcium has been shown to help lower blood pressure if it is included regularly in the diet.

If you consume alcohol, limit it to no more than 1 drink on three or fewer days of the week. too much alcohol can raise blood pressure.

One of the most important things to do is to see your doctor regularly to keep tabs on your blood pressure. If you want to take control of your diet, a registered dietitian can help.


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