Risk Factor No. 1: Who You Are. Heredity plays a part in your hypertension risk. If you have family members with high blood pressure, that may mean youâ€™re more prone to the condition. Men are more likely to develop high blood pressure at a younger age than women, and age is a factor by itself â€” men over the age of 45 and women over the age of 55 have a greater hypertension risk than younger individuals. If you're African-American, you're also at an increased risk for high blood pressure.
Risk Factor No. 2: What You Eat. Those endless bags of chips, cartons of fries, and greasy pizzas increase your hypertension risk and take a toll on your overall health. Adding salt to your food and eating a lot of processed or pre-packaged foods will boost your sodium intake. A diet high in sodium is one of the major hypertension risk factors and is certainly one that you can change.
Risk Factor No. 3: How Much You Weigh. Excess body weight is hard on your heart and blood vessels. If your body mass index (BMI) is 25 or higher, you're considered to be overweight and have a greater hypertension risk. So get slim and trim, and aim for a BMI below 25 to help prevent high blood pressure.
Risk Factor No. 4: How Much You Move. Getting a little too comfortable on the couch lately? Knowing that a sedentary lifestyle is a major hypertension risk factor ought to be plenty of motivation. The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate or more strenuous exercise on most days of the week. The more you get, the better â€” and the lower your risk for high blood pressure.
Risk Factor No. 5: Your Bad Habits. The dangers of smoking and drinking are no secret, but here's another reminder of how bad they are for your health. Tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption are known contributors to high blood pressure. So kick your bad habits to lower your hypertension risk.
Risk Factor No. 6: Diabetes. If you have diabetes, you already know you're at risk for major complications. Having diabetes actually doubles your risk of developing high blood pressure, and people who have both diabetes and high blood pressure are at four times the risk of developing heart disease than a person without either condition.