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Tips To Control High Blood Pressure

El Centro, California (NAPSI) - High blood pressure can greatly increase your risk for heart  disease and stroke, but there’s good news if you are living with this condition. 

In addition to medication, there are proactive steps you can take to control  your blood pressure and help improve your heart health.

Certain populations, such as women and African-Americans, are at greater  risk for high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, according to the  American Heart Association. After the age of 65, a higher percentage of women  have hypertension as compared to men. Additionally, approximately 40 percent  of African-American women have high blood pressure. Higher rates of obesity  and diabetes, compared to other groups, also put African-Americans at greater  risk for high blood pressure and heart disease.

Other risk factors, such as family history, advanced age, lack of physical  activity and poor diet—especially one that includes too much salt—can  also contribute to high blood pressure.

Tips For Taking Control

Take control of your blood pressure with these six tips from the American  Heart Association that are good for your heart and brain:

1. De-stress. Take a break from  work and listen to relaxing music or meditate.

2. Fit in physical activity.  Regular, moderate-to-vigorous physical activity can help keep your blood  pressure and cholesterol at heart-healthy levels and help you maintain a  healthy weight. Walking is a great way to get started, but also consider  jogging, yoga or a cardio class.

3. Eat heart-healthy foods.  Healthy foods give you more energy, keep your brain fed and help prevent  other health problems. If you’ve got to “eat on the run,”   choose nutritious snacks.

4. Reduce your sodium intake.  Eating too many salty foods can lead to high blood pressure. The average  American consumes more than twice the 1,500 milligrams recommended by the  American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. More than 75 percent  of the sodium consumed in the U.S.  comes from processed and restaurant foods.

5. Limit caffeine. Water is  usually the best choice.

6. Don’t smoke. Smoking  is the No. 1 preventable cause of death.

These factors hit home for Tisha Dixon-Williams. At 31, she thought she  was pretty healthy, despite a junk-food diet. Then one day she felt dizzy and  couldn’t maintain her balance.

“I didn’t want to accept that something could be wrong,”   she said. “I finally went to the doctor, and when I walked in my blood  pressure was 190 over 120. I was a walking stroke.”

The Brooklyn resident also found out that  high blood pressure ran in her family. She now controls her risk by doing  something she loves: dancing. Other positive lifestyle changes, such as  eating more nutritious foods as well as taking blood pressure medication,  have helped her gain control both on and off the dance floor.

Taking small steps toward eating healthier and getting more physical  activity is a commitment that more people need to adopt, said Jennifer Mieres,  M.D., American Heart Association spokesperson and Medical Director, Center  for Learning and Innovation, North Shore−LIJ Health System in New York.

“We need to remember that 80 percent of heart disease is  preventable, so simple changes can help,” she said.

For more information, including tools, resources and an online tracker,  visit www.heart360.org/YouArethePower.