Top Tips for a Healthy Heart

Blog Hypertension

Prevention of Hypertension

written by Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse Written by Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse
Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse

Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse

Tessa is a MSN prepared Registered Nurse with 10 years of critical care experience in healthcare. When not practicing clinical nursing, she enjoys academic writing and is passionate about helping those affected by medical aliments live healthy lives.

Read more posts by this author.
reviewed by Dr. Katalin Karolyi Reviewed by Dr. Katalin Karolyi
Dr. Katalin Karolyi

Dr. Katalin Karolyi

Katalin Karolyi, M.D. earned her medical degree at the University of Debrecen. After completing her residency program in pathology at the Kenezy Hospital, she obtained a postdoctoral position at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, Orlando, Florida.

September 30, 2021 Read Time - 6 minutes

What is Hypertension?

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a medical condition that affects nearly half of adults in the United States (45%). According to the CDC, 108 million people have hypertension, defined as people either having a blood pressure greater than 130/80 mm Hg (milliliters of mercury) or are taking medication for hypertension. Hypertension is the abnormally elevated blood pressure within blood vessels and the circulatory system. 

The circulatory system includes the heart, veins, arteries and capillaries. Hypertension will cause problems over time, often severe problems if not managed properly. At its worst, hypertension can cause heart attacks, strokes, and kidney failure. 

  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

PlushCare-App-Steps

Hypertension Causes

Hypertension is caused by environmental and/or genetic factors that increase the pressure within the circulatory system. The exact etiology of hypertension remains unclear, but a number of risk factors are strongly and independently associated with its development. These risk factors include:

  • Age – advanced age is associated with increased blood pressure.
  • Obesity – obesity and weight gain are major risk factors for hypertension.
  • Family history – hypertension is about twice as common in people who have one or two hypertensive parents.
  • Race – hypertension tends to be more common and severe in Black patients.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea – disordered breathing during sleep appears to be a risk factor for hypertension.

Family history of hypertension increases your chance of developing high blood pressure. It is important to discuss family history related to medical problems with your doctor because often diseases are passed down from one generation to the next. 

Environmental factors including diet, exercise, and medical compliance are factors that determine the likelihood of developing hypertension. Risk factors that are under your control include:

  • High sodium diet – excess sodium intake >2.3 grams/day increases your risk of hypertension
  • Excessive alcohol consumption – excess alcohol intake is associated with the development of hypertension.
  • Physical inactivity- physical inactivity increases the risk of hypertension development.
  • Oral contraceptives- particularly those with higher doses of estrogen can cause hypertension.
  • NSAIDs- particularly chronic use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents can have effects on blood pressure.
  • Antidepressants such as tricyclics, SSRIs, and MAOIs can increase blood pressure.

The focus is always on primary prevention. The best approach to primary prevention of hypertension is a combination of lifestyle changes. These lifestyle changes include losing excessive weight, moderation of alcohol intake, and consuming foods low in salt and high in nutrients such as fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products.


Related: How to Understand Blood Pressure Ranges by Age


How to Prevent Hypertension

Visiting your primary care doctor each year for your checkup is important in determining illnesses at their early stages, thus making them more treatable. Hypertension will most likely be caught early at primary care visits which assist with the management and possible cure of hypertension.

Hypertension is called the silent killer because it is often overlooked. Many diseases will alarm us with pain or other obvious symptoms. Sometimes people with hypertension will have vague symptoms or no symptoms at all, which makes the need to see a doctor more difficult or seem unnecessary. Many people mistakenly think since there is no pain or symptoms, there is no need to be concerned. However, hypertension can cause serious problems over time, such as a heart attack, stroke, or kidney disease.

Primary prevention is defined as trying to prevent yourself from getting a disease, such as with lifestyle choices, while secondary prevention is defined as trying to detect a disease early and prevent it from getting worse, such as with screening tests like lab work or doctor visits. Tertiary prevention is defined as trying to improve the quality of life and reduce the symptoms of a disease you are already diagnosed with, such as with prescription medications and lifestyle changes.

Luckily, you have a lot of control over your blood pressure. To prevent and even lower your blood pressure, you can:

  • Lose weight (if you are overweight)
  • Choose a diet low in fat and rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products
  • Reduce the amount of salt you eat
  • Do something active for at least 30 minutes a day on most days of the week
  • Cut down on alcohol (if you drink more than 2 alcoholic drinks per day)
  • Quit smoking, if you smoke.

Keep in mind when measuring your blood pressure, the numbers might change depending on whether you recently had caffeine, just exercised, or feel stressed. It’s good to measure your blood pressure daily and at the same time each day. 


Related: Hypertension Medications 


Hypertension Diet

The DASH diet is often used to help people manage hypertension. The eating plan is known as the “Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension” (DASH) diet. According to research funded by the NIH, utilizing the DASH diet can reduce blood pressure by 11 mmHg if you have high blood pressure. Taking control of your high blood pressure could be as easy as making some simple dietary changes. 

Hypertension can be treated by controlling your diet. Some foods help reduce blood pressure. The following foods reduce blood pressure:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Lentils, chickpeas, beans
  • Walnuts, almonds, peanuts
  • Fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products
  • Fish 
  • Low salt meals
  • Lean meats

Foods to avoid if you have hypertension:

  • Deli meats
  • Soda
  • Chips 
  • Pantry snacks (snack foods)
  • Sugar, sweets
  • Refined grains (white bread, white rice, most forms of pasta)

Hypertension Exercise Program

Maintaining a healthy body weight can reduce high blood pressure. Exercise promotes heart and circulatory system health, which helps maintain a healthy blood pressure. Exercise is a tool used to treat hypertension and maintain a healthy blood pressure.

What is the best exercise for hypertension? The best exercise for hypertension is aerobic, dynamic resistance, or isometric resistance training for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Examples of these types of exercises include:

  • Swimming
  • Cycling
  • Walking/running
  • Rowing
  • Squats
  • Climbing stairs
  • Push-ups
  • Wall sit
  • Plank holds
  • Overhead hold

According to the American Heart Association, hypertension is linked to better outcomes when a healthy diet and exercise are practiced regularly.

  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

PlushCare-App-Steps

Hypertension Prevention Online

If you are concerned about developing hypertension or hypertension runs in your family, talk to a doctor about hypertension prevention measures.

PlushCare offers online appointments to speak with a board-certified doctor about your heart health. Book an appointment today to follow up on your heart health and to talk to a doctor about your treatment plan. Take control of your health today.


Read More About Hypertension Prevention


Sources:

PlushCare is dedicated to providing you with accurate and trustworthy health information.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Facts about hypertension. Accessed on September 12, 2021 from https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/facts.htm 

National Center for Biotechnology Information. The Medical Clinics of North America. Krousel-Wood MA, Muntner P, He J, Whelton PK. Primary prevention of essential hypertension.  2004 Jan;88(1):223-38. Accessed on September 24, 2021 at https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14871061/

American Heart Association. How High Blood Pressure Can Lead to a Heart Attack. Accessed on September 24, 2021 at https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/health-threats-from-high-blood-pressure/how-high-blood-pressure-can-lead-to-a-heart-attack

Mayo Clinic. High Blood Pressure (Hypertension). Accessed on September 24, 2021 at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/symptoms-causes/syc-20373410

Mayo Clinic. DASH diet: Healthy eating to lower your blood pressure. Accessed on September 24, 2021 at https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/dash-diet/art-20048456

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog. The PlushCare blog, or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For more information click here.

Our commitment to you.

PlushCare is dedicated to providing you with accurate and trustworthy health information.

  • right Tick Image

    Research from sources you can trust

  • right Tick Image

    Medical reviews by field experts

  • right Tick Image

    Frequent content updates

More to learn.