The single best way to battle high blood pressure

It’s no secret that your blood pressure tends to go up as your age does. In fact, as many as 65 percent of Americans over age 60 have high blood pressure.

And if you’re among this 60 percent, it means you have a higher risk of serious problems like stroke and heart attack. Yikes!

But you can keep your BP levels low as you get older, and lower your risk for stroke and heart attack while you’re at it.

How?

Well, there’s one action that will battle high blood pressure better than any other…

It’s not giving up alcohol. Or cigarettes. Or exercising more. Even though, those are all important too.

It’s maintaining a healthy weight.

That’s right. Shedding those stubborn pounds is the single best thing you can do if you want to keep your BP in check. In fact, maintaining a healthy weight can lower your risk of high blood pressure by a whopping 40 percent…

Drop those pounds and drop your pressure

According the latest research from University of Alabama at Birmingham, maintaining a healthy weight into middle age is the best way to keep blood pressure levels healthy.

Researchers examined how five different lifestyle factors contributed to the development of high blood pressure:

  • Never smoking
  • Drinking 7 or less alcoholic drinks per week for women or 14 or less drinks per week for men
  • Eating a healthy diet (following the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH diet))
  • Getting 150 minutes or more a week of moderate to vigorous physical activity
  • Maintaining a healthy weight

And over the course of 25 years, people who maintained a healthy weight were 41 percent less likely to see their blood pressure spike once they hit middle age.

People who followed at least four of the lifestyle factors also had a decreased risk of high blood pressure — 27 percent. Still good, but not nearly as high as those who just maintained a healthy weight.

Even more interesting, eating a healthy diet and exercising on their own weren’t linked to better blood pressure, but weight loss was. Go figure!

Those extra pounds are the best indicator of whether or not you’ll have high blood pressure, because when you gain weight, the extra weight compresses your blood vessels. This makes it harder for blood to flow through them and can lead to stiffening blood vessels, high blood pressure and cardiovascular problems.

But if you don’t gain weight with age, your blood vessels don’t have this added pressure, so they stay pliable and healthy…the way they should be.

Balancing your weight and your blood pressure

What can you do to maintain (or get back to) a healthy weight?

Well, eating healthy and exercising, obviously. Even if they didn’t lower blood pressure in this particular study on their own, they are the only way to maintain a healthy weight.

But what kind of diet and exercise routine are best?

Well, research shows that low-carb trumps low-fat when it comes to losing weight and improving your heart health, so try a low-carb diet. A low-carb Mediterranean diet is a perfect choice for far-reaching weight and health benefits.

As far as exercise goes, it’s best to mix it up. Do a combination of resistance exercise, cardio workouts, interval training and stretching to lose the most weight, shed the most belly fat, trim the most inches off your waistline, lower your blood sugar, gain the most lean body mass… and hopefully, maintain a healthy blood pressure in middle age and beyond.

Sources:

  1. Risk Factors for High Blood Pressure — National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
  2. Which single behavior best prevents high blood pressure? — MedicalXpress. Retrieved September 28, 2017.

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Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.