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Health & Wellness

4 Things That Can Affect Your Blood Pressure

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It’s no secret that staying active, maintaining a healthy body weight and eating healthful food goes a long way towards keeping blood pressure under control. But some less-known factors can also work against you.

To keep resting blood pressure at or below 120/80, be alert to the following.  

Canned foods

A chemical called bisphenol A (BPA) found in the lining of some plastic bottles and cans may increase blood pressure over time, says a study in the journal Hypertension. Among the 60 study subjects, all 60 years or older, systolic blood pressure (upper number) acutely increased by 4.5 mmHg after drinking two canned beverages compared with consuming two glass bottled drinks. You may reduce your risk by eating less canned foods and opting for glass or stainless steel containers versus plastic.

Drinking beverages that contain caffeine

Starting your day with a cup of coffee or other caffeinated beverage could be elevating your blood pressure even if you're not currently hypertensive, says a study published in the journal Hypertension. Caffeine was given to a group of 182 men. Blood pressure was measured after 20 minutes of rest and again at 45 to 60 minutes afterward. Caffeine raised both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in all groups, with the strongest response observed among men with hypertension. Prior to drinking the caffeine, 78% of men were diagnosed hypertensive; this increased to 89% after the test. Stage 1 men (systolic ranges from 140 to 159 mmHg and diastolic between 90 and 99 mm Hg) comprised 4% of the group; this increased to 15% after caffeine. If you currently have high blood pressure or borderline hypertension avoiding beverages that contain caffeine may help keep it under control. 

Eating sweets

While salty foods are well known for increasing the risk of high blood pressure, sugar may be even worse. A study published in the journal Hypertension found increased blood pressure in people who drank beverages sweetened with glucose or fructose, which are used widely by the beverage industry. "Instead of sugary drinks, try club soda with your favorite fresh fruit or a flavored water like Crystal Light or Mio,” says Amy Goodson, RD, Ben Hogan Sports Medicine Dietitian, Dallas, TX.

Anger

Seeing red can also raise your blood pressure. “Stress and anger can be harmful to your health in so many ways,” says Insel. Plus, studies show people who fly off the handle easily are more likely to develop heart disease. “Find ways throughout the day to practice mental relaxation measures,” says Insel. Try meditation, biofeedback, yoga or performing any activity you find pleasurable and stress-free.

Of course making time each day to exercise will help as well, says Insel. "Maintaining a proper weight should always be part of one's overall wellness goals and invariably will help lower your blood pressure."

 

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