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How Can High Blood Pressure Be Prevented?

If You Have Normal Blood Pressure

If you don't have high blood pressure (HBP), you can take steps to prevent it. Healthy lifestyle habits can help you maintain normal blood pressure.

  • Follow a healthy diet. Limit the amount of sodium (salt) and alcohol that you consume. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan promotes healthy eating.
  • Be physically active. Routine physical activity can lower HBP and reduce your risk for other health problems.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Staying at a healthy weight can help you control HBP and reduce your risk for other health problems.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking can damage your blood vessels and raise your risk for HBP. Smoking also can worsen health problems related to HBP.
  • Learn to manage and cope with stress. Learning how to manage stress, relax, and cope with problems can improve your emotional and physical health.

Many people who adopt these healthy lifestyle habits are able to prevent or delay HBP. The more lifestyle changes you make, the more likely you are to lower your blood pressure and avoid related health problems.

For more information about healthy lifestyle habits, go to "How Is High Blood Pressure Treated?"

If You Have High Blood Pressure

If you have HBP, you can still take steps to prevent the long-term problems it can cause. Healthy lifestyle habits (listed above) and medicines can help you live a longer, more active life.

Follow the treatment plan your doctor prescribes to control your blood pressure. Treatment can help you prevent or delay coronary heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and other health problems.

Children and Teens

A healthy lifestyle also can help prevent HBP in children and teens. Key steps include having a child:

  • Follow a healthy diet that focuses on plenty of fruits, vegetables, and, for children older than 4 years old, low-fat dairy products. A healthy diet also is low in saturated and trans fats and salt.
  • Be active for at least 1 to 2 hours per day. Limit screen time in front of the TV or computer to 2 hours per day at most.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. If your child is overweight, ask his or her doctor about how your child can safely lose weight.

Make these healthy habits part of a family health plan to help your child adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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August 2, 2012