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What Factors Influence Blood Pressure?

author image Janet Renee, MS, RD
Janet Renee is a clinical dietitian with a special interest in weight management, sports dietetics, medical nutrition therapy and diet trends. She earned her Master of Science in nutrition from the University of Chicago and has contributed to health and wellness magazines, including Prevention, Self, Shape and Cooking Light.
What Factors Influence Blood Pressure?
Heart muscle contraction produces blood pressure. Photo Credit: kedofoto/iStock/Getty Images

Blood pressure refers to force against artery walls when your heart circulates blood throughout your body. A normal blood pressure is less than 120 over 80 and high blood pressure is 140 over 90 or above. The first number represents the pressure against your artery walls when your heart beats. The second number represents the force in between beats. Blood volume, resistance to flow and the thickness of your blood influence blood pressure. However, in the absence of heart disease, blood pressure rarely remains altered long term, according to the National Space Biomedical Research Institute. If you have high blood pressure, work with your doctor to make the lifestyle and diet changes necessary.

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Factors You Can Control

A poor diet can contribute to high blood pressure.
A poor diet can contribute to high blood pressure. Photo Credit: Fuse/Fuse/Getty Images

A poor diet, particularly one with excess salt, may contribute to elevated blood pressure. Lack of physical activity, consuming too much alcohol, smoking and long-term chronic stress can all negatively influence your blood pressure. If you're overweight, losing 10 to 20 pounds can help lower your blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association.

Factors You Can't Control

Blood pressure is influenced by different factors you can't control, such as age.
Blood pressure is influenced by different factors you can't control, such as age. Photo Credit: Catherine Yeulet/iStock/Getty Images

As you age, your arteries become stiff and lose flexibility, requiring your heart to pump harder to circulate blood. Genetics plays a role as well. If your parents or close relatives have high blood pressure, you are more likely to develop it, too.

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