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This Increases Your High Blood Pressure Risk Dangerously, Warns Yale Doctor

Here’s what you can do to prevent it.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

Hypertension, a.k.a. high blood pressure, is one of the biggest risk factors for heart disease and stroke, the two leading causes of death for Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Unfortunately, it is increasingly common, with tens of millions of adults suffering from it. There is no better time to educate yourself about the health condition than World Hypertension Day. Read on to find out what the number one preventable risk factor is for high blood pressure, and what you can do to prevent it from happening to you. And to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Had COVID And Should Tell Your Doctor.

Being Overweight Increases the Risk of Hypertension

Dr. Robert Ramak Attaran, MD, Yale Medicine cardiologist and associate professor at the Yale School of Medicine, explains to Eat This, Not That! Health that hypertension is elevated blood pressure. "Over time, it increases your chance of stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, and weakening of the heart," he says. 

Although there are many contributing factors to hypertension, one in particular stands out, per Dr. Attaran: being overweight. 

According to The Framingham Heart Study, excess body weight (including overweight and obesity), accounted for approximately 26 percent of cases of hypertension in men and 28 percent in women. 

"Having obesity is having excess body fat," explains the CDC. Excess body weight means your heart has to work harder to pump blood and oxygen around your body. Eventually, it can add stress to your heart and blood vessels. Additionally, it can increase "bad" cholesterol and triglyceride levels, lower "good" cholesterol levels, and lead to heart disease and diabetes.

While many of the hypertension risk factors might be out of your control, including gender, genes, and age, obesity can be preventable, Dr. Attaran points out. "As a starting point, you can lose weight, control your diet, and take medications," he explains. 

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How Do I Know If Have High Blood Pressure?

If you aren't sure if you have high blood pressure, the best way to find out is to have it checked either at home or by a professional. Unfortunately, there are no symptoms of hypertension, which is why it has been dubbed the "silent killer." According to the CDC, 1 in 3 U.S. adults with high blood pressure aren't even aware they have it and are not being treated to control their blood pressure. For more information on high blood pressure, visit the CDC's website—and to get through life at your healthiest, don't miss: This Supplement Can Raise Your Cancer Risk, Experts Say.