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Chronic high blood pressure can go down

Oct. 19, 2012 @ 11:55 PM

A brisk walk, pumping iron, even a roll in the hay can make your systolic blood pressure rise -- temporarily. But if, like "Southland's" Regina King (svelte and athletic) or ex-quarterback Joe Montana (who'd think it?), you have chronic high blood pressure, you want to know it NOW. New stats from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that 65 million Americans have HBP; about 35 million of them don't do anything to control it; and about 16 million of those folks don't even know they have it.

So for everyone, whether you know if your BP is up or not, here's what to do:

Step No. 1: Get your BP tested; 85 percent of people with undiagnosed HBP have health insurance. So, no excuses -- see your doc. No insurance? Most pharmacy chains do a blood pressure check for free. Just ask.

Your numbers? 120/80 is good; 115/76 is optimal (it slashes your risk for heart attacks and strokes in half). Dr. Mike's numbers are 115/75; Dr. Oz stays around 110/75.

Step No. 2: If your numbers are up, try the DASH diet -- whole grains, vegetables and fruit; 30 minutes of exercise daily (walking is our favorite); and if you have salt-sensitive HBP, limit salt intake to 1,500 milligrams a day. You'll slash your numbers by 8 to 14 points.

Step No. 3: Take everything down a notch. Stress leads to overeating, bad food choices and lousy sleep habits -- all risk factors for HBP. So make time for yourself, and try meditation to chill. No pressure, just a suggestion!

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Medical Officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. For more information go to www.RealAge.com.