Preventing high blood pressure

You can’t always prevent high blood pressure, but avoiding certain behaviors can help.

Some people cannot avoid developing hypertension or high blood pressure; it is a condition in their genetics. However, there are certain behaviors that can increase the risk of developing it, which in turn can also lead to a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Examples of these behaviors include drinking alcohol and smoking.

An estimated 42.1 million people (18.1 percent of all adults) in the United States smoke cigarettes. Smoking can cause an immediate spike in blood pressure due to the nicotine in tobacco. Nicotine induces the nervous system to release chemical substances that constrict blood vessels, which leads to an increase in blood pressure. The combination of smoking and hypertension can put an individual at a higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease and stroke compared to someone who does not smoke.

Drinking too much alcohol can also contribute to hypertension. The Mayo Clinic recommends that women and men limit the consumption of alcoholic beverages to no more than one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men. A drink equals 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor. Cutting back on alcohol consumption will help you lower your blood pressure.

Consuming foods with high amounts of sodium can also contribute to hypertension. Mayo Clinic recommends healthy individuals limit their salt or sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams per day. If you have hypertension, a lower sodium level of 1,500 milligrams per day is recommended.

You can’t always prevent health conditions, but your behaviors and the lifestyle you choose to live can have an impact on these conditions. Michigan State University Extension offers diabetes programming to assist those who live with diabetes to better manage their condition and also to prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes for those at risk.

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