Which one of the following lifestyle choices is best at preventing high blood pressure?
• Never smoking.
•Drinking seven or fewer alcoholic drinks weekly for women, or 14 or fewer drinks a week for men.
• Eating a healthy diet, especially by following the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, also known as the DASH diet.
• Getting 150 minutes or more a week of moderate to vigorous physical activity.
• Maintaining a healthy weight.
According to Dr. Bret Rogers, a cardiologist at The University of Tennessee Med-ical Center, even though these healthy habits work well at preventing high blood pressure, if you answered “e” – maintaining a healthy weight – you guessed correctly.
“While all of the five healthy lifestyle choices are important, maintaining a healthy weight is the one behavior that best prevents high blood pressure,” said Rogers. “Research has proven that of the five healthy behaviors, people who maintain a healthy body weight are less likely to see their blood pressure rise as they approach middle age.”
Rogers explains all five lifestyle behaviors work together to help prevent high blood pressure, and they are linked to maintaining a healthy weight.
So, what is it about weight that can cause high blood pressure?
“When you gain weight, blood vessels become compressed and your heart must work harder,” said Rogers. “Over time that can cause cardiac problems, especially when people get older and blood vessels stiffen.”
Rogers says for people who do not gain weight, blood vessels do not become as stiffened and this helps keep blood pressure lower.
After maintaining a healthy weight, which healthy behavior is next best at preventing high blood pressure?
“Never smoking and drinking little to no alcohol also keep blood pressure lower in middle age,” said Rogers. “Remember that all five of the health behaviors work together to help keep blood pressure at a healthy level. Eating a healthy diet, being physically active, and drinking little or no alcohol all add up to helping you maintain a healthy weight.”