It seems that maintaining a healthy weight is the most important behaviour in preventing unhealthy levels of blood pressure. Researchers evaluated the long term impact of maintaining healthy behaviours on blood pressure. They specifically looked at:
- Never smoking.
- Drinking 7 alcoholic drinks or less for women (14 for men).
- Eating a healthy diet.
- Getting a good dose of exercise each week.
- Maintaining a healthy weight.
Nearly 5000 people participated in the research (aged between 18 and 30 years), since the studies inception in 1985. 25 years later, researchers assessed the five areas and found the following:
- Maintaining a healthy body weight made you 41% less likely to have advancing blood pressure.
- Having 4 of the 5 health behaviours reduced your risk by 21%.
- Not smoking and having low levels of alcohol keeps blood pressure lower.
- Exercise and diet were not effective in managing blood pressure without having a stable weight.
The message is that keeping your weight down is critical. Having a greater amount of weight to carry around makes your heart work much harder because the weight has a compressive effect on the blood vessels which can produce cardiac problems.
SOURCES: John N. Booth III, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow, American Heart Association’s Strategically Focused Hypertension Research Network, University of Alabama at Birmingham; Sept. 14, 2017, presentation, American Heart Association meeting, San Francisco