High Blood Pressure: Risks, Causes & Prevention

high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, risk factors, prevention, causesIt's World Hypertension Day today, May 17 2016. Are you at risk of developing high blood pressure (hypertension)? 

The Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada says the number one risk factor for stroke, and a major risk factor for heart disease, is high blood pressure. Generally speaking, if your blood pressure is 120 / 80, you are in the low risk category. (Right Photo:


What's Your Blood Pressure Risk?

Age And Diabetic Factors

Systolic / Diastolic Blood Pressure

Risk Category
Under 80 years of age121-139 / 80-89Medium
Under 80 years of age140+ / 90High
Diabetic130+ / 80High
Over 80 years of age150 / 80High


High Blood Pressure Causes

Hypertension Canada tells us that the causes of high blood pressure that are out of our control, are age and family history. Sleep apnea, diabetes, and/or kidney disease are causes of high blood pressure that may have genetic factors, but lifestyle  (weight/obesity, lack of exercise, unhealthy diet, stress etc.) can also play a significant role in preventing these conditions from developing. Other lifestyle causes of high blood pressure include smoking, alcohol intake, and stress.


Lifestyle Changes to Prevent High Blood Pressure

You can't do anything about your genetic make-up, but you can positively or negatively influence causes of high blood pressure related to lifestyle. Hypertension Canada suggests the following lifestyle changes to prevent or mitigate high blood pressure:

  • Exercise - Be physically active for 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week. (moderate physical activity means you sweat a little and breathe a little harder). Don't be a couch potato!
  • Diet
    • Eat a healthy diet based on vegetables & fruit, low-fat milk products, whole grains & lean meats, fish, legumes (beans) and nuts.
    • Reduce Sodium Intake
      • Do not add salt/sodium to foods prepared at home or at the table.
      • Eat a lower salt/sodium diet. Most of the sodium in your diet comes from processed or packaged foods, and restaurant & take-out meals. (Wash canned foods & other salty foods before eating or cooking.)
      • Learn to read the sodium content on food labels. Choose packaged foods with 5% or less daily value for sodium.
  • Weight - If you are overweight, combine diet and exercise to reduce to a healthy weight or in other words a healthy BMI measurement of 20-25.
  • Stress - Manage your stress levels to improve your coping skills and your health. Exercise is a great stress reliever!
  • Alcohol - Limit alcohol to 1-2 standard drinks per day or less.
  • Smoking - Do not smoke and avoid places where others are smoking.


More About Heart Disease, Heart Attacks, High Blood Pressure/Hypertension, And Strokes

Atrial Fibrillation: Risk Factors

Heart Attack Symptoms (men)

Signs of a Heart Attack For Women

Hormone Therapy for Menopause and Heart Disease

High Blood Pressure: Fish Oil Supplements

Peripheral Artery Disease: Symptoms & Risk Factors

Strokes: Brain Function and Impacts

Warning Signs of Stroke

What to Say to Someone Who's Had a Stroke

Health Risks for Aging Couch Potatoes

Anita Hamilton

50+ World editor & baby boomer writer Anita Hamilton has always been interested in the "real people" stories behind the characters that create and inhabit the world of music, books, movies, television shows, current events, history, etc. A lifelong love of research (ok, nosiness) and writing, combined with a loving and supportive family complete with 3 mini-dachshund minions, keeps her busy.

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