Nutrition Matters – May 2019

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Move With Heart During National High Blood Pressure Education Month:

Hypertension or High Blood Pressure increases your risk of dangerous health conditions like heart attack, stroke and heart failure. Lifestyle changes such as increasing physical activity may lower your risk for developing hypertension.

During National High Blood Pressure Education Month in May, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) is challenging Americans to participate in a national pledge to Move With Heart to help reduce their risk of high blood pressure.

There are many risk factors for high blood pressure. Some risk factors, such as unhealthy lifestyle habits, can be changed. Other risk factors, such as age, family history and genetics, race and ethnicity, and sex cannot be changed. Blood pressure tends to increase with age. Our blood vessels naturally thicken and stiffen over time. These changes increase the risk of high blood pressure. However, the risk of high blood pressure is increasing for children and teens, possibly due to the rise in the number of children and teens who are living with being overweight or obesity.

High blood pressure is more common in African American adults than in white, Hispanic, or Asian adults. Compared with other racial or ethnic groups, African Americans tend to have higher average blood pressure numbers and get high blood pressure earlier in life. Before age 55, men are more likely than women to develop high pressure. After age 55, women are more likely than men to develop high blood pressure.

Healthy lifestyle changes can decrease your risk of developing high blood pressure. Unhealthy lifestyle habits can increase the risk of high blood pressure. These habits include unhealthy eating patterns, such as eating too much sodium, drinking too much alcohol or being physically inactive. Only about 22 percent of adults meet the federal government’s physical activity guidelines. Spending just 2.5 hours per week doing physical activity that gets your heart pumping and leaves you a little breathless can have significant heart health benefits including lowering your risk of high blood pressure. Get creative and help your heart by demonstrating your favorite physical activity in honor of National Blood Pressure Month.

For additional foods, health and nutrition information contact Shelina Bonner, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Greene County Center at (252) 747-5831.