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High Blood Pressure

What is high blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the pressure of blood against artery walls as the heart pumps. When you have high blood pressure, or hypertension, the heart and arteries have a much heavier workload. The heart has to pump harder and the arteries are under greater strain as they carry blood. Uncontrolled high blood pressure puts you at a higher risk for stroke, heart attack, kidney failure and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

How common is high blood pressure?

An estimated one in every two adults has high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association. The risk of high blood pressure increases as you age. However, through early middle age, about age 45, high blood pressure is more common in men than in women. High blood pressure usually has no symptoms; therefore, many with this condition may not even know they have it.

Risk FactorYesNo
I have a family history of high blood pressure.
I am at or over age 45.
I smoke regularly.
I frequently have more than two alcoholic drinks at a time.
I eat a lot of fried foods or foods high in fat.
I eat a lot of foods high in salt/sodium.

Find out if your blood pressure is in a healthy or unhealthy range by being checked by your health-care provider.

Tips to Reduce the Risk of High Blood Pressure

  • Consider the “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension,” or DASH, diet. This diet emphasizes vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy foods, as well as a moderate amount of whole grains, fish, poultry and nuts.
  • Limit alcohol. According to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, men should limit alcohol to no more than two drinks a day.
  • Limit caffeine intake from coffee and other beverages and foods. Aim for no more than 200 milligrams per day – about the same as two 8-ounce cups of coffee.
  • Reduce sodium. Aim for less than 1,500 milligrams per day.
  • Exercise regularly. Aim for 30 minutes on most days of the week.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.

Recipes

Cauliflower Buffalo Bites
Cauliflower Buffalo Bites

Zucchini Rollups
Zucchini Rollups

4-ingredient Chocolate Mousse
4-ingredient Chocolate Mousse

Find out more

Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., Food and Nutrition Specialist

Emily Busch, Dietetic Intern

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