While high blood pressure increases the risk for countless health conditions, the risk of stroke ranks at the top. Currently, stroke is the 4th leading cause of death in the United States.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 3 adult Americans has high blood pressure.

For years, experts have deemed 120 over 80 as the optimal blood pressure, with 140 over 90 being the threshold for hypertension. But new studies suggest that even people with lower blood pressure numbers – in the prehypertension range – could be at an increased risk for stroke.

Research found that people with blood pressure higher than 120 over 80 – classified as prehypertension – were 66% more likely to have a stroke and nearly 20% of those who had strokes were in the prehypertension zone. People in the high risk group, with blood pressure higher than 130 over 85, were 95% more likely to have a stroke than those in the normal blood pressure zone of 120 over 80.

Amazingly, the health risks from having high blood pressure are some of the easiest to reduce – just by making a few adjustments in one’s daily life.

According to experts, the best way for people to reduce their risk of prehypertension stroke was by simply altering their diet and exercising more. Even just losing 10 pounds can have a drastic effect on lowering blood pressure.

Here are some easy tips that will help lower blood pressure and the risks associated with it:

  • Eat a diet rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables
  • Make sure dairy products are low or no fat versions
  • Reduce your intake of saturated fats, which includes animal products
  • Avoid foods that are high in sodium, especially pre-packaged and canned products
  • Reduce your consumption of sugars and processed carbohydrates
  • Consider replacing proteins with non-meat options, such as tofu or beans
  • Exercise for 30 minutes to 1 hour most days of the week
  • Reduce stress in your life by considering situations that increase blood pressure
  • Enjoy a variety of leisure activities that still allow you to remain active

For more information about reducing your risk of high blood pressure, and the health conditions associated with it, visit the National, Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

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