Chronic high blood pressure—for an extended amount of time—puts strain in your vital organs and this can eventually lead to a handful of serious health issues. Of course, high blood pressure is easy enough to treat and avoid. While medication can certainly help bring blood pressure down to a safer level, lifestyle changes can be far more effective and better for you in the long term.
For one, simply cutting down on your salt intake can help mitigate high blood pressure risk. Exercise, of course, will also strengthen your cardiovascular system. But a new study from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute suggests that switching to low-fat dairy products—fat free and/or low-fat milk, for example—appears to have quite an impact.
In this study, the researchers found that consuming more than three servings of [low-fat] milk and dairy products per day were up to 36 percent less likely to be diagnosed with high blood pressure than those who consumed the least amount of dairy (which is less than half a serving per day). In addition, those who ate at least three servings of [low-fat] dairy, per day, and also limited their saturated fat intake were at least 54 percent less likely to receive a high blood pressure diagnosis than those who ate a low-saturated fat diet with reduced dairy intake.
Health experts advise that high blood pressure is a rating of 140/90 mmHg for people under the age of 80. The rating would be 150/90 mmHg or higher for those age 80 or older. To ensure a healthy blood pressure, health experts advise people over the age of 40 should have their blood pressure checked at least once every 5 years.
In addition, though, simple lifestyle changes can have a big impact on blood pressure. To reiterate, decreasing salt intake can help but so would cutting back on alcohol and caffeine. Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and regular exercise is also important, as is getting at least 6 hours of sleep every night.
The results of this study have been published in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association.