The #1 Sign Your Blood Pressure is "Way Too High"
High blood pressure is a dangerous health condition, yet very sneaky—people often have no idea it's even happening. "Hypertension doesn't often cause symptoms, which is why it is known as the 'silent killer.' This gives some people a false sense of security. They don't understand why they need to make an effort to lower their blood pressure," says preventive cardiologist Luke Laffin, MD. "Hypertension is a diagnosis given when someone has multiple blood pressure readings above 130/80 mmHg. It indicates something has caused your blood pressure to rise above normal—stress or exercise, for example. You can have one episode or an occasional episode of high blood pressure. It doesn't mean you have hypertension." If you're wondering about your blood pressure situation, here are five lifestyle factors strongly linked to hypertension. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Obesity Strongly Linked to Hypertension
Being overweight or obese is strongly correlated with high blood pressure. One study showed that leptin, the 'satiety hormone' responsible for fat storage, can lead to the increase in blood pressure that happens with weight gain. "High blood pressure is a well-known consequence of obesity," says Professor Michael Cowley, Monash University. "Our study explains the mechanism behind this link, showing that leptin, a hormone secreted by fat, increases blood pressure."
No Exercise Means High Blood Pressure
If you spend most of the time sitting, and rarely exercise—surprise surprise, you are in significant danger of high blood pressure. One study showed that children who spend more than two hours a day in front of a screen have a 30% higher chance of hypertension—and that less than one hour a day of exercise raises that risk by 50%. "The study shows the number of new high blood pressure cases and the connection between physical activity and different sedentary behaviors with the risk of high blood pressure in European children," says Augusto César F. de Moraes, a Brazilian researcher who collaborates with the Unizar group and lead author of the article, to SINC.
Too Much Salt
Too much salt is linked to high blood pressure in some individuals, but certain diets—such as the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet—is backed by science to help fight high blood pressure, with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, nuts, seeds, and legumes. "Each day, take small steps toward healthier eating," says Kate Patton, MEd, RD, CSSD, LD. "Over time, you'll start to feel better and lose weight, which can motivate you to keep going."
Smoking is terrible for your health for a variety of reasons, but it also causes hypertension—even if you're not the one smoking! "Avoid exposure to secondhand smoke regardless of whether the smoker is still in the room," says Professor Byung Jin Kim of Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul, Republic of Korea. "Our study in non-smokers shows that the risk of high blood pressure (hypertension) is higher with longer duration of passive smoking — but even the lowest amounts are dangerous. The results suggest that it is necessary to keep completely away from secondhand smoke, not just reduce exposure, to protect against hypertension."
Drinking Too Much Alcohol
Drinking too much alcohol has been linked to high blood pressure, but one study showed that even moderate drinking (seven to 13 drinks per week) led to a 53 percent higher chance of hypertension. "I think this will be a turning point for clinical practice, as well as for future research, education and public health policy regarding alcohol consumption," says Amer Aladin, MD, a cardiology fellow at Wake Forest Baptist Health and the study's lead author. "It's the first study showing that both heavy and moderate alcohol consumption can increase hypertension."
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