Though it often goes unnoticed, high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a serious condition. It can lead to many serious complications, such as increasing your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
The best way to prevent your blood pressure from getting too high is to understand the most common causes of hypertension and take the appropriate steps to avoid them. Though this condition is nothing to sneeze at, it’s also entirely manageable and avoidable if you take the right steps to prioritize your health.
This starts with understanding what factors increase your blood pressure.
High Blood Pressure Causes
Hypertension is split into two different types depending on its cause.
Primary hypertension develops slowly over the years. It doesn’t have a singular cause but, instead, is the product of many lifestyle factors taking their toll on the heart and the smooth muscles of the arteries.
Secondary hypertension has a more rapid onset and usually results in higher blood pressure. It can be caused by certain health conditions and certain medications.
Exercise and Diet
Lifestyle factors like a lack of exercise and a poor diet are top contributors to high blood pressure and related conditions such as heart disease. Diets high in sodium and saturated fat are especially harmful if you have blood pressure issues.
Living a healthier lifestyle is the best method to reduce risk factors for many dangerous health conditions. Everyone can benefit from making more nutritious meals and adding routine exercise to their daily habits.
Lots of Stress
A high stress level raises the blood pressure, especially when this stress is sustained for a long time.
At times of high stress, your body produces higher amounts of the hormone epinephrine, also known as adrenaline. This activates your “fight or flight” response, raising your blood pressure and producing a rapid heart rate.
If stress continues for too long, this can cause lasting damage to your heart and your blood vessels.
High blood pressure is a frequent medication side effect. While this is usually only a temporary issue that corrects itself over time, in some cases, it can result in a more permanent form of hypertension.
In addition to some over-the-counter medications, some prescription medications have been linked to high blood pressure. These include decongestants, oral contraceptive pills, and some cold medications.
Other Diseases and Health Conditions
Many health conditions can increase your risk of developing hypertension. Some examples are kidney disease, thyroid issues, congenital blood vessel defects, and sleep apnea.
Additionally, any cause of chronic pain can raise your stress levels, which results in heightened blood pressure.
Prevention of High Blood Pressure
For the most part, prevention is similar to the usual high blood pressure treatments. Since most cases of primary hypertension develop gradually over the years, avoiding unhealthy behaviors is the best way to halt this process. For secondary hypertension, prevention focuses on treating the underlying condition causing higher blood pressure.
Making Healthier Choices
Avoid consuming too much fat and sodium in your diet. Skip takeout whenever possible, and opt for home-cooked meals in which you control the exact ingredients. Be sure to use fresh, healthy components in the preparation of most of your meals.
As for working out, a little bit goes a long way. As little as 30 minutes of light exercise per day can reduce your average blood pressure significantly and improve your overall well-being. Try easy cardio exercises like jogging and jumping jacks, or go for strength training workouts.
A good work-life balance is integral to managing your stress levels and keeping control of your high blood pressure. Take time to relax and cool off after difficult projects at work or big life events, and try to include some relaxing hobbies.
Meditation can also help you alleviate tension effectively. For a one-two punch, combine exercise and stress relief with mindful workouts like yoga and tai chi.
Getting Routine Medical Care
As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Nowhere is this more true than in the medical field, where preventative care could save your life.
Most regular check-ups involve checking your blood pressure, so be sure to have an annual physical. If you’re currently experiencing any of the health conditions that increase your risk of developing hypertension, it’s best to address these concerns sooner rather than later.
Speak with your doctor about the best preventative strategy for you.
The more proactive you are about addressing higher than average blood pressure, the more effective your preventative measures will be.
If you have any high-risk factors, it’s especially important for you to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This means cutting back on stress, eating right, and staying active, as well as getting routine medical care and monitoring your blood pressure.
With careful management of your health, you can keep high blood pressure from harming your well-being.