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FOR RELEASE: May 12, 2004
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Eating High Blood Pressure Away
As many as one in three adult Oklahomans is affected

May is National High Blood Pressure Month - and time to take action to find out what your blood pressure numbers are, what they mean, and what you need to do to prevent or control this all too common condition. High blood pressure currently affects more than 50 million Americans. More than 700,000 adult Oklahomans have had high blood pressure. That’s one in four adults in the U.S. and almost one in three adults in Oklahoma, according to officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

Although high blood pressure does not usually have any symptoms, if not prevented or controlled, it can lead to heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease, the first, third, and ninth leading causes of death in the United States.

The good news is that high blood pressure can be prevented, and it can be controlled by the following lifestyle changes that help reduce and control blood pressure:

  • maintaining a healthy weight;
  • being physically active;
  • following a healthy eating plan;
  • eating less salt and sodium;
  • and limiting your alcohol consumption.

One step that you can get started on right away is to begin to follow a healthy eating plan. Research has shown that a healthy eating plan called DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) can both reduce your chances of developing high blood pressure and lower your blood pressure if it is already high.

The DASH eating plan emphasizes fresh fruits and vegetables and low fat dairy products. The plan is moderate in total fat and low in saturated fat and cholesterol. It also includes whole grains, poultry, fish, and nuts. And if you also reduce your salt and sodium intake, it works even better.

Starting on the DASH eating plan is fairly easy. It requires no special foods and has no hard-to-follow recipes. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Make gradual changes like adding a serving of fruit or vegetables at lunch and/or dinner.
  • Gradually increase your use of fat free and low fat dairy products to three servings a day.
  • Gradually cut in half the amount of butter, margarine, or salad dressing you eat.
  • If you now eat large portions of meat, cut them back by a half or third at each meal.
  • Try two or more meatless meals each week.
  • Try casseroles and pasta and stir-fry dishes, which have less meat and more vegetables, grains, and dry beans.
  • Try fresh or dried fruits, raw vegetables, or low fat and fat free yogurt for snacks.

For more information about the DASH eating plan, tips for getting started, sample meal plans, and even recipes, visit the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s “Your Guide to Controlling High Blood Pressure” at http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/hbp/index.html and click on Prevention. You may also contact the OSDH Chronic Disease Service at 405/271-4072 or your local health department for more information on high blood pressure.

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