Health Team

Six healthy behaviors can help reduce high blood pressure risk

Posted July 21, 2009 5:40 p.m. EDT
Updated July 21, 2009 6:36 p.m. EDT

A new study shows that six healthy behaviors can significantly reduce a person’s risk of developing high blood pressure.

High blood pressure or hypertension is a major contributor to the leading causes of death for men and women.

“High blood pressure is a major cause of stroke and a major cause of heart disease or heart attack,” said Dr. John Forman, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Forman and other researchers tracked the lifestyle habits of nearly 84,000 women with normal blood pressure. The goal was to see how much women could lower their risk of developing hypertension by adopting these six low-risk lifestyle factors:
  • Keeping a normal body weight
  • Regular exercise
  • Healthy diet
  • Moderate alcohol consumption
  • Avoiding over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Taking folic acid supplements

Over 14 years, participants lowered their risk of developing hypertension by about 80 percent.

“Following just one of the six healthy lifestyle factors does reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure. However, adding on and combining multiple low risk factors leads to greater and greater reductions in the risk of developing high blood pressure,” Forman said.

The study found that the most critical lifestyle factor to follow is maintaining a healthy weight.

Researchers found that the lifestyle behaviors can have such a great impact that the risk of developing hypertension can be reduced even among women with a family history of the disease.

The study is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.