Hello. This is Hypertension Prevention Tuesdays! Risk factors that can increase your risk of high blood pressure include health conditions, your lifestyle, and your family history.
Some of the risk factors for high blood pressure cannot be controlled, such as your age or family history. But you can take steps to lower your risk by changing the factors you can control.
What are conditions that increase my risk for high blood pressure?
Some medical conditions can raise your risk for high blood pressure. If you have one of these conditions, you can take steps to manage it and lower your risk for high blood pressure.
Elevated Blood Pressure
Elevated blood pressure is blood pressure that is slightly higher than normal. High blood pressure usually develops over time. Having blood pressure that is slightly higher than normal increases your risk for developing chronic, or long-lasting, high blood pressure in the future.
If your blood pressure is between 120/80 mmHg and 129/80 mmHg, you have elevated blood pressure. Learn more about how blood pressure is measured.
You can take steps to manage your blood pressure and keep it in a healthy range.
About 6 out of 10 of people who have diabetes also have high blood pressure.1 Diabetes causes sugars to build up in the blood and also increases the risk for heart disease.
Talk with your doctor about ways to manage diabetes and control other risk factors.
What behaviors increase risk for high blood pressure?
Your lifestyle choices can increase your risk for high blood pressure. To reduce your risk, your doctor may recommend changes to your lifestyle.
The good news is that healthy behaviors can lower your risk for high blood pressure.
A diet that is too high in sodium and too low in potassium puts you at risk for high blood pressure.
Eating too much sodium—an element in table salt—increases blood pressure. Most of the sodium we eat comes from processed and restaurant foods.
Not eating enough potassiumexternal icon—a mineral that your body needs to work properly—also can increase blood pressure. Potassium is found in many foods; bananas, potatoes, beans, and yogurt have high levels of potassium.
Getting regular physical activity helps your heart and blood vessels stay strong and healthy, which may help lower your blood pressure. Regular physical activity can also help you keep a healthy weight, which may also help lower your blood pressure.
Having obesity is having excess body fat. Having obesity or overweight also means your heart must work harder to pump blood and oxygen around your body. Over time, this can add stress to your heart and blood vessels.
Obesity is linked to higher “bad” cholesterol and triglyceride levels and to lower “good” cholesterol levels. Learn more about cholesterol.
In addition to high blood pressure, having obesity can also lead to heart disease and diabetes. Talk to your health care team about a plan to reduce your weight to a healthy level.
Too Much Alcohol
Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure.
- Women should have no more than one drink a day.
- Men should have no more than two drinks a day.
Tobacco use increases your risk for high blood pressure. Smoking can damage the heart and blood vessels. Nicotine raises blood pressure, and breathing in carbon monoxide—which is produced from smoking tobacco—reduces the amount of oxygen that your blood can carry.
What other factors increase my risk for high blood pressure?
Family members share genes, behaviors, lifestyles, and environments that can influence their health and their risk for disease. High blood pressure can run in a family, and your risk for high blood pressure can increase based on your age and your race or ethnicity.
Genetics and Family History
When members of a family pass traits from one generation to another through genes, that process is called heredity.
Genes likely play some role in high blood pressure, heart disease, and other related conditions. However, it is also likely that people with a family history of high blood pressure share common environments and other potential factors that increase their risk.
The risk for high blood pressure can increase even more when heredity combines with unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as smoking and eating an unhealthy diet.
Find out more about genetics and disease on CDC’s Office of Public Health Genomics website.
Family health history is a record of the diseases and health conditions people in your family have had. Family health history is a useful tool for understanding health risks and preventing disease. To help people collect and organize information on their family history, CDC’s Office of Public Health Genomics collaborated with the Surgeon General and other federal agencies to develop a Web-based tool called My Family Health Portrait.
Both men and women can have high blood pressure. Some other characteristics that you cannot control—such as your age, race, or ethnicity—can affect your risk for high blood pressure.
- Age. Because your blood pressure tends to rise as you get older, your risk for high blood pressure increases with age. About 9 out of 10 Americans will develop high blood pressure during their lifetime.2
- Sex. Women are about as likely as men to develop high blood pressure at some point during their lives.
- Race or ethnicity. Black people develop high blood pressure more often than white people, Hispanics, Asians, Pacific Islanders, American Indians, or Alaska Natives do. Compared with white people, black people also develop high blood pressure earlier in life.3
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I’m excited to talk about this topic today because not only do I truly believe that you have the power to reverse heart disease and lower high blood pressure to improve your health, but the science also agrees! You can adopt healthy lifestyle practices that improve your health and enrich your life, which can in turn improve the lives of those close to you. You have the power to break the cycle of these chronic diseases so that you can leave a legacy of health to your loved ones.
As you may already know, I use lifestyle medicine as the first line of treatment, before medications, to treat lifestyle-related chronic diseases. Lifestyle-related chronic diseases include diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and some cancers, just to name a few. Lifestyle practices, such as eating a whole-food plant-based diet and regular physical activity, can help you improve blood pressure and reverse heart disease. In certain cases, these approaches may even outperform pharmaceutical therapy. But I always tell my patients that conventional medications may be appropriate at this time to prevent catastrophic illness, but over time, you can work to make the necessary lifestyle changes to possibly reduce and/or eliminate medications. Please remember to always consult your physician for your particular needs and circumstances prior to making any decisions whatsoever.
Is Dietary Supplementation Right For You?
There is a common saying, “You can’t outrun a bad diet.” This is especially true when it comes to heart health. Diet is sooooo very important… Did you know that your diet could be the key to a healthy heart? It’s true – what you eat (and don’t eat) can have a big impact on your cardiovascular health. So, if you’re looking to keep your heart in tip-top shape, make sure you pay attention to what you put on your plate.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to eat a healthy diet in this day and age. It is very important to note that we are not eating the same foods we ate years ago because the soils have been depleted of critical nutrients through current industrial farming practices. And because the soil is not as good as it used to be, the food supply (grown from the depleted soil) is not as good as it used to be. For example, you are not getting the same levels of magnesium as you would have gotten 30 or even 50 years ago.
Second, much of the food has been genetically altered, which can impact the inherent and unique nutritional composition that each food possess. For example, ancient einkorn wheat has less gluten, more protein, more Vitamin A, and more beta carotene, than modern genetically modified wheat.
Third, the toxic load in the environment today is much higher than 100 years ago. We can see this with global warming, toxic landfills, polluted oceans and waterways, etc. Toxicity levels interfere with nutrient assimilation and absorption not just into the foods, but into our bodies as well.
For some people, vitamin and mineral supplements offer important health benefits. Supplements are designed to fight deficiencies found in our diet and complement the food we eat regularly. Supplements are basically “helping hands” to our daily food.
If you need extra help in getting the nutrients you need, and/or are unable to eat better, the supplements in my Healthy Heart Bundle may provide the extra boost you need.
These are my favorite Heart Health Supplements to use! This Healthy Heart Bundle will ensure you have the intake of the important vitamins, minerals, and probiotics to decrease inflammation and boost your innate wellness day and night. Taken together, it’s a solid plan for increasing your body’s natural resiliency while you lose weight and improve your heart health, naturally.
For best results make sure you use my heart health supplements with dietary changes including a whole food plant-based diet, regular exercise (at least 2-3x per week), regular sleep (8 hours per night), and intermittent fasting (at least 1-3x per week).
Tools to Improve Heart Health
Blood Pressure Monitoring
It’s very important to monitor your blood pressure. I often recommend an automatic upper arm blood pressure cuff, but a wrist blood pressure monitor is also acceptable.
Since weight management is very important in blood pressure control, I recommend that you be mindful of your weight and its fluctuations, and that you monitor your weight AT LEAST on a weekly basis. I recommend a scale that includes a body composition monitor.
Taking Charge Of Your Heart Health
Heart health is a big topic. It’s in the news, on our minds, and for good reason; heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the U.S. But what if there was something you could do proactively to help protect your heart from future problems? Enter the CardiaX test—a revolutionary new way to take charge of your heart health!
What is CardiaX?
CardiaX is a comprehensive genetic testing panel that looks at mutations associated with common cardiovascular risks. It can be used to determine if there are any genetic factors at play in your heart health, and it can also identify potential areas of risk that may require further action. With this knowledge, you can make informed choices about your health today with the aim of improving long-term heart health outcomes.
Who Might Benefit from CardiaX?
If you have been diagnosed with or are at risk for atherosclerosis, abnormal cholesterol production, hypertension, stroke risk, and risk for heart attack then you may benefit from this test. Additionally, anyone who wants to know more about their genetic predispositions for common cardiovascular risks may also want to consider taking this test as well.
What Can I Do With My Results?
Your results will give you an indication of whether or not there are any potential genetic markers playing a role in your risk for developing certain conditions related to heart health. From there, you can work with your healthcare provider to develop a plan that takes into account these findings and helps you develop strategies for managing them going forward. In addition to lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise modification, selecting medications that are tailored specifically to your genetics could be beneficial as well.
In A Nutshell…
The CardiaX test is an exciting new way to take charge of your heart health by learning more about how genetics might be playing a role in certain cardiovascular risks. With this knowledge in hand, patients can make decisions informed by their own unique genetic profile that will help reduce their overall risk for developing certain conditions associated with heart disease. This type of proactive approach is key when it comes to protecting ourselves against this all-too-common affliction—so don’t wait another minute! Take control of your future and get started with the CardiaX test today!
Remember, healthy lifestyle behaviors–like eating a whole-foods plant-based diet that is low in sodium, being physically active, and stress management are the best ways to prevent and control high blood pressure. Please talk with your doctor about any complementary health approaches, including supplements, you use.
Let me know what you think in the comment section below.
PS. I am always asked what tools and resources I recommend to help you reach YOUR health goals. Here is the ever-growing, always updated list for you.
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