Keep Blood Pressure in Check

When it comes to grades and paychecks, higher is almost always better. But blood pressure is another story. If yours climbs even the slightest, you might have pre-hypertension, a condition that can be detected only through blood pressure readings.

While a systolic pressure reading of 120-139 and/or a diastolic reading of 80-89 doesn’t necessarily mean you have high blood pressure, it can lead to high blood pressure — which can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke.

Doctors usually prescribe medication for pre-hypertension only if you have other conditions such as diabetes or kidney disease. And even though certain risk factors — age, gender (it’s more common in men), and family history — can’t be altered, you can address some lifestyle changes:

Weight. If you’re overweight, you’re at greater risk for pre-hypertension and high blood pressure.

Exercise. Inactive people are at increased risk.

Salt. The amount of salt in your diet may affect blood pressure (especially for African-Americans).

Smoking. Smoking leads to hardening of the arteries and other cardiovascular problems that may contribute to high blood pressure. People with high blood pressure who also smoke greatly increase their risk of stroke.

Alcohol. For some people, having more than 1-2 drinks a day raises blood pressure.

With good habits and regular checkups, you can keep your blood pressure from rising into the pre-danger zone.

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