High Blood Pressure? 5 Key Ways to Bring It Down

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Yes, many people will need medication. But remember that lifestyle changes can often do the job.

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Hypertension affects about 74.5 million people ages 20 and older—or about 1 in 3 adults. Older people especially are at high risk; more than half of those ages 60 to 69 and about three quarters of those ages 70 and older have high blood pressure, according to a 2003 report published in the journal Hypertension. Normal blood pressure is considered to be less than 120 systolic (the top number) over 80 diastolic. Prehypertension is defined as 120 to 139 systolic over 80 to 89 diastolic, and hypertension includes blood pressure readings of 140 and above systolic and 90 and above diastolic.

But high blood pressure doesn't have to be an inevitable part of aging. Making some changes to your lifestyle can help lower blood pressure—and offer other health benefits, too. Here are some of the most important steps you can take:

Next: Change your diet—and be consistent.

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