After following more than 30,000 US adults for 9-years, researchers share their knowledge on preventing hypertension.
American Heart Association has recently created a metric model of cardiovascular health called “Life’s Simple 7”. It allows people in their 30s to evaluate how high are their risks of developing high blood pressure when they turn 40. Researchers included the following lifestyle factors in the model:
- Physical activity
- Body mass index
- Blood sugar
- Blood pressure
You can lower your risk of hypertension (high blood pressure) by 6% with every point higher on Life’s Simple 7 score. Hypertension is affecting nearly half of US adults, causing issues like stroke and heart attack. However, you can prevent it from developing healthy habits.
Get rid of the smoking habit
If you’re a smoker, this might be the first step for you, because “smoking is not only a risk factor for chronic damage to the heart and lungs, but it is also a trigger,” said Dr. Donald M. Lloyd-Jones. “Nicotine and other factors increase your blood pressure acutely, which puts more stress on your heart.”
He is assuring you will get the real benefits very quickly. A few years after ending smoking, your risk of heart-related diseases can be close to that of someone who’s never smoked.
Step by step
Quitting cigarettes can be really challenging. That’s why Lloyd-Jones recommends dealing with one problem at a time. “Go the path of least resistance by choosing to change in whatever way works for you,” he insists.
Indeed, if you’ll be pushing yourself too hard, you may reach a critical stress level. People need to avoid that. “Stress is a sort of modifier on our ability to actually adhere to the Simple 7. When we’re stressed, we tend not to eat as healthy, we don’t engage in physical activity, and we don’t sleep as well, which has implications for both weight and blood pressure,” explains Lloyd-Jones.
Diet and intermittent fasting
There’s nothing groundbreaking about the diet American Heart Association researchers recommend. It is designed to naturally reduce your sodium intake by eating foods like vegetables, beans, fruits, fish, lean poultry, and healthy oils. At the same time, avoid red and processed meats, refined grains, and sugar.
Lloyd-Jones also recommends a 16:8 intermittent fasting pattern with an eating window between noon and 8 p.m. He believes the best strategy for most people is eating moderately and staying physically active through the years.