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Keep high blood pressure at bay

Many cases are preventable

Karen Miller

Some cases of high blood pressure are difficult to avoid. It may run in families or a medical condition precipitates it. For everyone the risk of hypertension increases with every tick of the clock.

But too many times our behavior brings it on. Here are risk factors that are in our court. Fortunately, we can have some control.

Healthy Eating

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends limiting sodium (salt) and increasing consumption of potassium. Good sources of potassium are lima beans, sweet potatoes, avocados and spinach. Healthy eating also includes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat protein and fatty fish.

Physical Activity

The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults engage in 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity. Examples are brisk walking and biking. Regular exercise helps keep arteries flexible, which reduces the risk of HBP.

Healthy weight

Overweight and obesity significantly increase one’s risk of high blood pressure. The additional weight increases the workload of the heart, which puts more pressure on the walls of the arteries. A healthy weight is determined by the body mass index (BMI), which correlates height and weight.