More People are Now at Risk for High Blood Pressure

According to new guidelines issued in May 2003 by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), you may be one of 45 million Americans (in addition to the 50 million who already have hypertension) who has prehypertension. Here is what you need to know:

What is hypertension?
Blood pressure is the force of blood against the artery walls. If it stays elevated over a period of time you have high blood pressure or hypertension. A blood pressure of 140/90 is considered high. If your blood pressure is between 120/80 and 139/89 then you are said to have prehypertension. This means that you are at risk for developing high blood pressure in the future.

Who should be concerned?
Everyone should be concerned about their blood pressure. People who do not have it by age 55 still have a 90%?chance of developing it during their lifetime.

Why is high blood pressure dangerous to your health?
High blood pressure is dangerous because it makes your heart work harder. It increases your risk for cardiovascular disease, dementia and kidney disease.

How do you lower your blood pressure?
According to the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) sodium trial, the most important thing you can do is to eat a low-sodium, DASH-style diet. It is also important to exercise, maintain a healthful weight and limit alcohol.

Take a look below to learn about the DASH diet.

Make DASH Work for You!
The DASH eating plan includes whole grains, poultry, fish and nuts, and has low amounts of fats, red meats, sweets and sugared beverages. It is also high in potassium, calcium and magnesium, as well as protein and fiber.

It is helpful to write down what you eat for several days or weeks to see how you are doing. Here are common serving sizes:

• Grains: 1/2 cup of cooked grain product like rice, pasta, oatmeal or barley, 1 slice of bread or 1 ounce dry cereal.
• Fruits and vegetables: 1/2 cup chopped fruits or vegetables, 1 cup leafy greens, 1 medium fruit, 1/4 cup dried fruit or 3/4 cup 100%?juice.
• Dairy: 1 cup of skim milk or nonfat yogurt
• Protein: 2-3 ounces lean meat, poultry or fish, 4 egg whites, 1/2 cup cooked beans, 2 tablespoons nut butter, 1/3 cup nuts

Daily Servings for a 2,000-Calorie Diet:
Grains and Grain Products 7-8
Vegetables 4-5
Fruits 4-5
Lowfat or Nonfat Dairy 2-3
Meat, Poultry and Fish 2 or fewer
Nuts, Seeds and Beans 4-5/week
Added Fat 2-3
Sweets Limit to 5/week

This diet is higher in fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy products than what most people are used to eating. It is also lower in sweets.

FMI, see www.nhlbi.nih.gov

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