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Best Heart-Healthy Tips

How to Lower Your Blood Pressure

Nearly one-third of Americans have high or borderline blood pressure, but it's possible to beat it without medication. Through a combination of diet, exercise, and weight loss you can lower your blood pressure by as much as 10 to 14 mmHg overall, says Dr. Yancy. Here are his other must-follow tips:

Get Checked After age 35, you should have your blood pressure taken every year. Anything above 140/90 is high, but you should consider making lifestyle changes if your stats are over 120/80, as that signifies prehypertension.

Pass on the Salt Too much sodium contributes to high blood pressure. The average American consumes about 4,000mg per day, but you should limit intake to 1,500mg. Don't add salt when cooking and try to avoid processed foods (one can of prepared soup can contain 600 to 800mg).

Start Walking Aerobic exercise makes blood vessels more flexible. A brisk 30-minute walk five days a week can lower blood pressure by about 5 mmHg. Walking off the weight helps too—lose 22 pounds and you can knock off an average of 8 mmHg, which is on par with taking medication.