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Behaviors That Increase Risk for High Blood Pressure

Person standing on a scale.

Your lifestyle choices can increase your risk for high blood pressure. To reduce your risk, your doctor may recommend changes to your lifestyle.

The good news is that healthy behaviors can lower your risk for high blood pressure.

Unhealthy Diet

A diet that is too high in sodium and too low in potassium puts you at risk for high blood pressure.

Eating too much sodium—an element in table salt—increases blood pressure. Most of the sodium we eat comes from processed and restaurant foods. Learn more about sodium and high blood pressure.

Not eating enough potassium also can increase blood pressure. Potassium is found in bananas, potatoes, beans, and yogurt.

Physical Inactivity

Not getting enough physical activity can make you gain weight, which can lead to high blood pressure.


Obesity is excess body fat. Obesity is linked to higher "bad" cholesterol and triglyceride levels and to lower "good" cholesterol levels. In addition to high blood pressure, obesity can also lead to heart disease and diabetes. Talk to your health care team about a plan to reduce your weight to a healthy level.

Too Much Alcohol

Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure.

  • Women should have no more than 1 drink a day.
  • Men should have no more than 2 drinks a day.

Tobacco Use

Tobacco use increases your risk for high blood pressure. Cigarette smoking can damage the heart and blood vessels. Also, nicotine raises blood pressure, and carbon monoxide reduces the amount of oxygen that your blood can carry.