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7 Steps to Tame Prehypertension

7 Steps to Take

The good news is, prehypertension doesn't have to become high blood pressure. To start turning things around, consult your doctor and take these 7 steps:

  1. Check your diet. Consider following the DASH diet, which is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products. It curbs fat and cholesterol. It also restricts sodium, which can raise blood pressure, and emphasizes foods rich in calcium, potassium, and magnesium, minerals that help lower blood pressure.
  2. Watch the salt. Most experts recommend cutting back on salt. Check the Nutrition Facts food label, limit processed foods, replace salt with herbs and spices, and don't add too much salt to foods. The American Heart Association recommends limiting sodium to no more than 1,500 milligrams (mg) a day, which is approximately one teaspoon of salt.
  3. Move more. Get at least 30 minutes of moderate activity every day, most days of the week.
  4. Get to a healthy weight. Extra pounds make prehypertension more likely. Physical activity and healthy eating can help you shed extra weight.
  5. Limit alcohol. Drink no more than two drinks a day if you're a man or no more than one if you're a woman. If you don't drink, don't start.
  6. Curb stress. It's unclear whether chronic stress, by itself, can raise your blood pressure in the long run. But it can make you more likely to overeat and skip exercise, Stein says. So change your stressful situations, or at least how you deal with them. Find healthy ways to ease stress and consider counseling.
  7. Keep up with your blood pressure. If you can, buy a home monitor, and take your blood pressure twice day: once in the morning and once at night, Stein says. "One very high reading is concerning, but one alone isn't enough," he says. "You want to see how it changes over time."

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Reviewed on July 08, 2013

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