The World Health Organization estimates that the prevalence of high blood pressure (hypertension) is highest in the African region, with about 46% of adults aged 25 years and older being hypertensive compared to 35% in the Americas and 40% elsewhere in the world1. What’s more, black adults have more resistant and severe hypertension than other racial/ethnic groups.2
There are several factors that increase the risk of developing high blood pressure. Some of these are related to who you are (age, race, gender and family history). Others are modifiable risk factors i.e. risk factors you can change to help prevent and manage high blood pressure.3
How to keep your heart healthy
- Exercise. Even moderate amounts of regular exercise can help your heart. Exercise helps to lower blood pressure as well as lose weight.
- Maintain a healthy weight or lose weight. 4 Excess weight can increase your blood pressure. Carrying too much weight puts an extra strain on your heart and circulatory system, as well as increasing the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes 3.
- Eat a healthy diet with less salt. 4 A diet that is high in salt, fat, and calories can increase your risk of high blood pressure.
- Don’t smoke or vape. Smoking or using tobacco can make your blood pressure go up temporarily and can also harm your arteries.
- Limit your alcohol intake – Avoid drinking too much alcohol as it can raise your blood pressure, which increases your risk of heart problems.
- Get enough sleep. Get 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep every day.4
- Manage your stress. Chronic stress can increase your blood pressure. Stress can cause hypertension through repeated blood pressure spikes as well as stimulating your nervous system to produce hormones that narrow the arteries, which in turn increases blood pressure. 5
Most importantly, if your blood pressure is not responding to these lifestyle changes, your doctor may prescribe specific high blood pressure medication to reduce your blood pressure.
Read our article “Understanding Blood Pressure” for more information.