Many unexpected factors can temporarily cause your blood pressure to skyrocket, such as having a full bladder or crossing your legs. There are also bad habits that may go on for years, forever increasing your risk of disease and even death as a result of hypertension, or high blood pressure. You might not even realize these everyday things are hurting you — but this silent killer won’t warn you until it’s too late.
Why is high blood pressure so dangerous?
According to the CDC, one in three adults lives with high blood pressure. But just because it’s common doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take it seriously. Chronic high blood pressure can increase your risk of diabetes, kidney damage, and even dementia. This is in addition to the risks most often associated with the condition — stroke and heart disease. Sometimes, it’s the little things you do every day that put your health — and your life — in danger.
Taking herbal supplements
Some prescription and over-the-counter medications can cause high blood pressure. Livestrong.com warns federally unregulated herbal supplements can have the same effect. This is one reason why you should never take more than the recommended dose of any supplement. You should also make sure the number of supplements you are taking at one time is considered safe. People who already have high blood pressure are at an even greater risk of harm if they take certain supplements.
Researchers continue to evaluate the long-term effects of marijuana use to determine its level of risk. A study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology suggests marijuana users may face an increased risk of death from high blood pressure, compared to non-users. The drug tends to cause a temporary increase in blood pressure, which usually isn’t harmful. However, excessive use over time could put you at higher risk for developing hypertension and related health problems.
Eating processed food
When you think of high blood pressure, salt is probably the first edible villain that comes to mind. It’s important to look at overall diet, though — not just one nutrient. Medical News Today shares research questioning whether or not sodium is the biggest contributor to high blood pressure and heart disease.
Eating too much sugar and other poor lifestyle choices that can lead to obesity and chronic stress, says the Obesity Action Coalition, might also play a role.
Drinking too much alcohol
According to Mayo Clinic, having more than three drinks in one sitting sometimes causes blood pressure to rise temporarily. However, frequent binge drinking can have dangerous long-term affects on your blood pressure. Women should limit their consumption to no more than one drink per day. Men over 65 should also stick with a single daily drink, but men under 65 can safely have up to two.
Spending most of your time sitting
Inactivity is a major risk factor for high blood pressure and related heart problems — and sitting all day certainly won’t help. You have to get up and move! The American Heart Association suggests making exercise an enjoyable social activity to keep yourself motivated. Choose a type of exercise you’re actually interested in, and do it with people you enjoy spending time with. That way, moving feels a lot less like a chore.
Drinking your sugar
According to HealthAfter50, the added sugars in your diet could cause more damage to your heart than salt. Lifelong dependence on processed foods, especially sugar-sweetened beverages like soda and naturally sweetened drinks like fruit juice, can result in dangerously high blood pressure over time. One of the easiest ways to start cutting back on sugar is to avoid sugary drinks as much as possible. Replacing even one glass of juice with 8 ounces of water can make a huge difference.
Habits to keep your blood pressure under control
There’s plenty you can do to reduce your risk of high blood pressure and its many complications. Everyday Health recommends managing your stress, limiting your alcohol consumption, and much more. Though diet and exercise may seem like generic solutions, positive lifestyle changes do make a difference — and the sooner you make them, the better.