The rate of hypertension (high blood pressure) has nearly doubled in the last 30 years, according to The Lancet. That means that nearly 1.3 billion people around the world have hypertension, and many of them are not aware of their condition and even fewer are taking steps to prevent or correct the problem.
High blood pressure is relatively easy to detect. It’s straightforward to treat, and it is largely preventable for the average person. Yet, more and more people are putting their longevity at risk, increasing their likelihood of heart disease and a number of other health conditions.
Our lifestyles are largely to blame. Obesity continues to be a global problem, and sedentary lifestyles combined with poor eating habits all add up to increased rates of high blood pressure. These factors can further be complicated if you smoke or struggle to cope with stress.
Addressing high blood pressure is a potential way to add years to your life. Here’s what you can do:
- Schedule regular checkups with your healthcare provider. Blood pressure monitoring is a standard part of most physician visits and is not invasive.
- Work toward a healthy weight. As the pounds go down, so do our risks for many health conditions, including hypertension. If you’re already on your Habits of Health journey, keep it up!
- Watch your salt intake. Many modern foods are highly processed and contain high levels of sodium (salt), even in foods you might not expect. Try to eat more fresh foods instead.
- Move! Long periods of sitting have been linked to several health problems, so standing more frequently and getting your 10,000 steps a day can be a big win for your wellbeing.
- Kick the smoking habit. If you smoke, stopping is one of the most important steps for your health you can take. It’s not easy, especially if you have smoked for several years or more, but the Habits of Health can help.
As always, talk to your healthcare provider before making any significant changes to your lifestyle. In general, however, you can begin making several changes today to unlock the rewards of healthy blood pressure, and I hope these suggestions help you get started.