5 Ways to Lower Your Risk for Hypertension and Heart Disease

Sep 06, 2023
5 Ways to Lower Your Risk for Hypertension and Heart Disease
Hypertension and heart disease are two unfortunately common conditions, but we have five ways for you to reduce your risk. Keep reading to learn more.

Hypertension, better known as high blood pressure, and heart disease are interconnected conditions, and both are major health problems. Left untreated, they can lead to serious health problems, including death.

According to the CDC, hypertension was a primary or contributing cause of death in 2021 for nearly 700,000 people in the US, and about 697,000 people die of heart disease every year — 1 in 5 deaths..

At AGP Family Health Clinic in Tomball, Texas, board-certified family physician Dr. Robert Pedroza and his staff treat all manner of chronic diseases, including hypertension and heart disease. As prevention is always preferable to treatment, the team’s put together this guide to five ways you can lower your risk for these two conditions,

What is blood pressure?

Your arteries are large blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood from your heart to your body’s tissues. Blood pressure measures the force blood exerts on your arteries’ walls.

Readings consist of two numbers, reported as one number over the other. In healthy adults, a normal blood pressure reading should be 120/80 mmHg or lower.

When the readings are higher than these numbers, the heart needs to work harder to pump the same amount of blood. That doesn’t just damage the blood vessels; it can also damage your kidneys, eyes, and even your brain.

In the long term, hypertension can cause complications through atherosclerosis. Excess pressure roughens the lining of the arteries, which allows a fatty plaque to build up and narrow them. The heart has to pump harder to circulate blood, which increases the pressure even more, becoming a positive feedback loop.

Hypertension-related atherosclerosis may lead to:

  • Heart failure
  • Heart attacks
  • Aneurysms (atypical bulges in the artery wall that can rupture)
  • Kidney failure
  • Stroke
  • Ocular retinopathy (can lead to blindness)

Fortunately, you can decrease your risk for all these complications through lifestyle adjustments.

What is heart disease?

Heart disease is an umbrella term for a range of conditions that affect the heart, including:

  • Blood vessel disease, such as coronary artery disease (CAD)
  • Irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias)
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Heart muscle disease
  • Heart valve disease

Heart disease is sometimes used synonymously with cardiovascular disease, but the two reflect different conditions. Cardiovascular disease generally involves atherosclerosis, which, as we’ve seen, is caused by hypertension. Heart disease can reflect many other problems specifically within the heart and with the supporting blood vessels.

A 2019 report in the journal Circulation revealed that 121.5 million US adults, or 48%, have some form of cardiovascular disease.

5 ways to lower your risk for hypertension and heart disease

You can lower your risk for hypertension in much the same way you can lower it for heart disease. Here are five good ways.

1. Try the DASH diet

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension eating plan emphasizes lots of fruits and vegetables and low-fat or nonfat dairy products. Studies conducted by the National Institutes of Health have shown the diet can lower blood pressure, often within only two weeks. Limit sodium (to 2,300mg per day) and saturated fats, eliminate trans fats, and focus on foods high in fiber, calcium, and magnesium.

2. Get plenty of exercise

Regular aerobic workouts strengthen the heart and keep blood vessels working properly, and it’s a good idea to be active throughout the rest of your day rather than sitting all the time. Researchers at the University of Minnesota published study results showing the more active participants were, the lower their risk of hypertension.

3. Shed the pounds

Extra weight taxes your heart and makes it harder for it to pump effectively. Even losing a few pounds can make a big difference.

4. Don’t smoke

Smoking does a number on your whole body, including your cardiovascular system. It dehydrates your tissues, narrows your arteries, and elevates your blood pressure.

5. Manage stress

Small amounts of stress are healthy. Stress hormones make your body and your mind ready for whatever challenges face you, including by raising blood pressure so your body can benefit from increased blood flow. But too much (or constant) stress overtaxes your body’s systems, keeping them alert when there’s no real threat.

Want more tips on how to keep your blood pressure low and your heart healthy? AGP Family Health Clinic can help. Give our office a call at 832-861-0393, or book your appointment online with us today.