According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), about 1 of 3 U.S. adults, or about 70 million people, have high blood pressure. Normal healthy blood pressure is defined as: a systolic pressure under 120 and a diastolic pressure under 80. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is defined as: a systolic pressure of 140 or higher and/or a diastolic pressure of 90 or higher. High blood pressure is a serious condition and puts one at higher risk for heart disease and stroke, 2 of the leading causes of death for Americans.
There are many factors that can contribute to high blood pressure, including: being overweight or obese, tobacco use, low physical activity, poor diet, and stress. Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the most controllable risk factors. Additionally, the steps one takes to lower their weight can also help lower blood pressure since it lowers stress on the heart.
To determine your healthy weight range, the CDC suggests measuring your BMI (Body Mass Index) and/or your waist circumference. A high BMI or excessive abdominal fat may be indicators that you are at risk for high blood pressure.
The Mayo Clinic suggests the following lifestyle changes for lowering your blood pressure, which can also help you lose weight.
Eat a Healthy Diet
- Consume a diet low in salt (sodium), total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol. A lower sodium level, 1,500 milligrams (mg) a day, is appropriate for people 51 years of age or older, and individuals of any age who have hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease.
- Try the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet which focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, poultry, fish and low-fat dairy foods.
Increase Physical Activity
- The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that you get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity.
- Exercise can also help manage stress, which is another contributing factor to high blood pressure.
- The recommended amount of alcohol for healthy adults is one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger. One drink equals 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor.
- Reducing alcohol consumption can help lower one’s calorie intake, which may result in weight loss.