Which Single Behavior Best Prevents High Blood Pressure?

From Drugs.com - September 14, 2017

Which Single Behavior Best Prevents High Blood Pressure?

THURSDAY, Sept. 14, 2017 -- You probably already know that certain healthy lifestyle behaviors can reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure, but is any one behavior more important than the others?

Maybe, as new research suggests maintaining a healthy weight is the No. 1 behavior to prevent unhealthy blood pressure levels.

"Our results indicate by maintaining a healthy body weight into middle age, you can help preserve low blood pressure," said the study's lead author, John Booth III. He's a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

"There have been increases in blood pressure at younger ages, which are linked to heart disease and stroke," Booth said. "We evaluated the long-term impact of maintaining healthy behaviors on [high blood pressure]."

Booth and his colleagues looked at the effects of five healthy behaviors:

The study included almost 4,700 volunteers. They were between 18 and 30 years old when the study started in 1985 and 1986.

Over 25 years of follow-up, the researchers measured blood pressure and health behaviors eight times.

People who maintained a healthy body weight were 41 percent less likely to see their blood pressure rise as they approached middle age.

Study volunteers who maintained at least four of the healthy behaviors had a 27 percent decreased risk of high blood pressure by middle age.

Staying physically active and eating a healthy diet were not specifically linked to a better blood pressure.

On the other hand, never smoking and drinking little to no alcohol seemed to keep blood pressure lower in middle age. But the researchers said a larger study is needed to confirm these because they may have been a chance finding.

Since maintaining a healthy body weight appears to be a more important behavior than the others, does that mean you do not need to be concerned about a healthy diet or getting enough exercise?

Not at all, Booth said.


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