The American Heart Association has recently released a statement advising doctors to encourage healthy adults with slightly elevated blood pressure or cholesterol to move more and sit less.
This is an effort to improve their heart health and prevent heart disease and stroke.
Doctors are being asked to write exercise “prescriptions” for those with mildly to moderately high blood pressure and cholesterol.
It would include suggestions for increasing daily physical activity and connecting them to resources like health coaches and community centers.
Around 21% of US adults, or about 53 million people, have blood pressure that’s considered slightly high, and approximately 28% of US adults, or about 71 million people, have slightly high cholesterol levels.
These individuals are considered to be at low risk for heart disease or stroke, and guidelines suggest that lifestyle changes alone can treat their condition.
These changes may include increasing physical activity, weight loss, improving diet, stopping smoking, and moderating alcohol intake.
The new AHA statement recommends that doctors ask patients about their physical activity levels at every visit and connect them to resources to help them increase their activity levels.
The statement also highlights that even small increases in physical activity can lead to significant health benefits.
Studies have shown that increased physical activity can lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure by an average of 3-4 mmHg and can decrease LDL cholesterol by 3-6 mg/dL.
The AHA statement also emphasizes the importance of celebrating small improvements in physical activity, such as taking the stairs more often or walking more throughout the day.
The federal physical activity guidelines suggest that people participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity weekly, as well as strength training sessions twice a week.
The recent statement from the AHA is aimed at improving heart health and reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
The statement is backed by research that shows physically active people have a 21% lower risk of developing heart disease and a 36% lower risk of death from cardiovascular diseases compared to inactive people.
How to prevent high blood pressure
There are several lifestyle changes and habits that can help prevent high blood pressure. Here are some tips:
Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure. Losing weight through a healthy diet and regular exercise can help prevent and manage high blood pressure.
Exercise regularly: Regular physical activity can help lower blood pressure and improve overall cardiovascular health. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week.
Follow a healthy diet: Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy products can help prevent high blood pressure. Reduce your intake of sodium, saturated and trans fats, and added sugars.
Limit alcohol and quit smoking: Heavy alcohol consumption can increase blood pressure, so it’s important to drink in moderation. Quitting smoking can also help lower blood pressure and improve overall health.
Manage stress: Chronic stress can contribute to high blood pressure, so it’s important to find healthy ways to manage stress, such as meditation, yoga, or regular exercise.
Get enough sleep: Lack of sleep or poor quality sleep can increase blood pressure and contribute to other health problems. Aim for at least seven hours of sleep per night.
Monitor blood pressure regularly: Regular blood pressure screenings can help identify high blood pressure early on and allow for timely intervention and treatment.
If you care about high blood pressure, please read studies about how your eyes could help diagnose high blood pressure, and marijuana may strongly increase death risk in high blood pressure.
For more information about blood pressure, please see recent studies that early time-restricted eating could help improve blood pressure, and results showing plant-based foods could benefit people with high blood pressure.
The study was published in Hypertension and conducted by Bethany Barone Gibbs et al.
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