Seven lifestyle changes to live longer

LOS ANGELES It's a routine check many people take for granted. But in time, letting your blood pressure get out of control can have staggering effects on your health.

"High blood pressure affects about one third of all adults in the U.S., and is the largest contributor to death among women in the United States," said Dr. John Forman, Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Blood pressure medications are among the top prescriptions Americans take. So doctors wanted to find out what people could do right now to lower their hypertension risk without drugs.

"In our study we attempted to quantify just how much a woman could lower her risk of developing high blood pressure by following a combination of low risk lifestyle factors," said Dr. Forman.

In a new report provided by the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers tracked the habits of 84,000 women over 14 years.

They found participants could lower their risk of developing hypertension 80 percent if they followed six lifestyle behaviors:

  • Keeping a normal body weight
  • Exercising thirty minutes a day
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Moderating alcohol consumption
  • Avoiding over the counter pain relievers and taking folic acid supplements
And numerous other studies show positive thinking along with stress reduction can go along way in helping to reduce hypertension.

Adding on and combining multiple low-risk factors leads to greater and greater reductions in the risk of developing high blood pressure.

These may sound simple, but Dr. Forman says making these changes can be quite powerful. Researchers found these seven behavior modifications can reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure even among individuals with a family history of hypertension.

The study also found that of the seven lifestyle factors, the most critical one of all is maintaining a healthy weight.

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