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Are You at Risk for High Blood Pressure?

Knowing the risk factors for high blood pressure, or hypertension, is the first step toward making sure your blood pressure is at a healthy level. There are several risk factors for hypertension. Some are within your control and others are simply a matter of genetics.

It does not matter what is causing or may cause you to have high blood pressure. The important point is that if you know you are at risk you can take steps to reduce the risk and keep your blood pressure at a healthy level.

We have no control over our genes, our race or our age. These are three risk factors for some people in developing high blood pressure. African Americans are more likely to develop high blood pressure than whites. They also seem to develop it at a younger age and have higher levels.

Age is a factor in blood pressure as well. The older you get, the more likely you are to have higher blood pressure. Women usually don't have trouble with hypertension until after menopause, unless they have a parent or other close relative with it. Men will develop hypertension as they age, with the greatest increases beginning between the ages of 35 and 55.

While race, age and genes are not something you can control there are several risk factors for hypertension which you can control. The most important is weight. Obesity leads to higher blood pressure especially in people with a body mass index over 30.0. Contributing to obesity and high blood pressure is also a lack of exercise. If you are inactive, you are more likely to be overweight and therefore develop hypertension.

Our eating and drinking habits greatly impact blood pressure. Consuming too much alcohol or salt on a regular basis also increases blood pressure. Not only overeating, but what you eat will affect blood pressure in a good or bad way.

How much stress you have and how you deal with it can influence blood pressure negatively. It is difficult to know how much stress a person is under, since many people hold it in and may not even feel overly stressed when in reality they are. When there is too much stress, other good habits are often sacrificed to deal with
the current situation. For example, during a stressful period you may not get enough sleep or exercise or may substitute good home cooked meals for high sodium fast foods.

Any one of these risk factors alone can put blood pressure levels within a dangerous range. When you couple the risk factors with one another, your problem grows exponentially. This means that if you are overweight, inactive and have a family history of hypertension, you are at a much higher risk than someone with only heredity working against them. It would be wise for anyone with the non-controllable risk factors of race, heredity, or age to keep stay physically active, maintain a healthy weight and reduce the amount of alcohol and sodium they consume. It is also important to eat a proper diet that will support a healthy blood pressure. Specific nutrients help reduce blood pressure even in those who are genetically predisposed to hypertension.

Learn how to reduce the risk factors for developing high blood pressure and keep your blood pressure at a healthy level:

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