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High blood pressure, or hypertension, affects about 30% of adults and if untreated, increases risks for heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and dementia.  Often the cause of high blood pressure is due to many factors, including a combination of lifestyle and genetic factors.

Blood pressure is the force exerted per unit area on the walls of arteries and it is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).  The measurement is expressed as two numbers:  (1) systolic pressure – the amount of pressure in arteries as the heart contracts, and (2) diastolic pressure – the amount of pressure that remains in arteries between beats with the heart is relaxed.

How effective are recommended lifestyle strategies?

If your blood pressure is above the normal range, diet and lifestyle can have a significant impact in achieving optimal levels.  If lifestyle changes are recommended by your doctor as primary treatment, it is important to maintain these changes for 6 to 12 months for the best results.

To lower high blood pressure, it is recommend that you maintain a healthy weight,  consume a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy, reduce dietary sodium intake, get 30 minutes of moderate aerobic physical activity such as brisk walking every day, and limit your consumption of alcohol.

Where should you start?  Implementing these lifestyle strategies can be overwhelming and they are best approached with support and education.  Start with customizing your nutrition to increase your energy and to jump start your metabolism for weight loss.