What is high blood pressure?

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a dangerous condition that can lead to strokes, heart attacks, heart failure, or kidney disease.

How can you reduce your risk of high blood pressure?

Fortunately, there are certain things you can do to help reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure. These include the following:

  • Eat right: A healthy diet is an important step in keeping your blood pressure normal. The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) emphasizes adding fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to your diet while reducing the amount of sodium. Since it is rich in fruits and vegetables, which are naturally lower in sodium than many other foods, the DASH diet makes it easier to eat less salt and sodium.
  • Keep a healthy weight: Going hand-in-hand with a proper diet is keeping a healthy weight. Since being overweight increases your blood pressure, losing excess weight with diet and exercise will help lower your blood pressure to healthier levels.
  • Cut down on salt: The recommendation for salt in your diet is to have less than 2,400 milligrams of sodium a day (equal to about one teaspoon). To prevent hypertension, you should keep your salt intake below this level. Don't forget that most restaurant foods (especially fast foods) and many processed and frozen foods contain high levels of salt. Use herbs and spices that do not contain salt in recipes to flavor your food; do not add salt at the table. (Salt substitutes usually have some salt in them.)
  • Keep active: Even simple physical activities, such as walking, can lower your blood pressure (and your weight).
  • Drink alcohol in moderation: Having more than one drink a day (for women) and two drinks a day (for men) can raise blood pressure.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/17/2019.


  • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. High Blood Pressure. www.nhlbi.nih.gov. Updated November 2008.
  • Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Talk with Your Health Care Provider about High Blood Pressure. www.ahrq.gov Updated April 2009. Accessed January 24, 2011.

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