With one in every seven people, and one in every four US adults, suffering from high blood pressure, it’s important to be aware of the risk factors that increase your risk of developing this health condition.
High blood pressure often doesn’t result in any visible symptoms or signs; those that have high blood pressure often only realise after having a blood pressure test while visiting their local doctor.
Luckily, high blood pressure is easy to prevent using a combination of healthy eating and lifestyle choices. In this blog post, we’ll share three tips that you apply use to lower your chances of developing high blood pressure.
From running to weight training, exercise is one of the most effective ways to make sure your blood pressure stays within a healthy range. Make sure you exercise every day, preferably for 30 minutes to one hour, to keep your blood pressure low.
Aerobic exercise – exercise that works your heart and respiratory system – is one of the best ways to keep your blood pressure low. If you already work out with weights and want to improve your health, try adding 30 minutes of cardio to your routine.
Limit your alcohol consumption
Heavy alcohol consumption, even if infrequent, is closely correlated with high blood pressure. Keep your drinking to a minimum when at bars or nightclubs and drink an average of one or fewer standard drinks per day.
While a glass of wine in the evening won’t harm your body, long-term drinking can have a significant negative effect on your health. Avoid serious alcohol consumption and you’re far less likely to develop high blood pressure.
Maintain a healthy diet
Eating healthy food every now and then isn’t enough; to keep high blood pressure at bay, it’s important to follow a consistent healthy diet. Focus on fruits and vegetables and avoid eating fatty meats more than once or twice per week.
Lean sources of protein such as egg whites, chicken breast and lentils offer protein without the fat of other types of meat. High-fat, high-sodium diets are closely linked to high blood pressure and a variety of other heart health issues.
Almost all doctors will tell you not to consume alcohol frequently if you suffer from high blood pressure. Their advice is sound – while occasional and light consumption of alcohol rarely affects high blood pressure, excess consumption is unwise.
However, researchers have now found that one to two standard drinks of alcohol a day may protect the heart and reduce the risk of heart disease, even for people with higher-than-normal blood pressure levels.
Senior author Qi-Qiang He, who works as part of the School of Public Health/Global Health Institute in China’s Wunan University, says that people should not increase their alcohol consumption if they have not previously been alcohol drinkers.
The observational study links low to moderate levels of alcohol consumption with a slightly decreased risk of developing heart attacks, cardiovascular disease, strokes and a wide variety of other serious medical conditions.
However, the study did not involve many heavy drinkers and its authors warn that heavy drinking and binge drinking have a significant negative impact on both heart health and general wellbeing.
The study, which is not yet conclusive proof of a link between alcohol consumption and heart health, has been seen by many wine hobbyists as proof of the ‘one a day’ metric for improving health and wellness.
In addition to heart attack and stroke, the study indicated that the risk of death for all causes was lowest for people who consumed eight to 10 grams of alcohol – less than one standard drink – per day.
Interestingly, people who consumed a light amount of alcohol were 18% less likely to die than non-drinkers over the course of the study. This finding, however, might be due to the different demographic profile of drinkers and non-drinkers.
Critics of the study state that, as the non-drinking population is typically older and less likely to follow a healthy diet, its negative healthy effects may be attributable to sources other than non-consumption of alcohol.
Speaking to Reuters, Dr Franz H Messerli of the Icanh School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, said: “One to two drinks daily is said to be the goldilocks amount of alcohol.”
“We don’t know whether moderate drinking is truly cardioprotective or whether it is merely a marker of a healthy lifestyle.”