Living with - High blood pressure (hypertension)

High blood pressure can often be prevented or reduced.

You can do this by:

  • eating healthily
  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • taking regular exercise
  • drinking alcohol in moderation
  • not smoking

Healthy diet

Cut down on the amount of salt in your food and eat plenty of fruit and vegetables.

Read a guide on how to have well-balanced and healthy diet

Salt raises your blood pressure. The more salt you eat, the higher your blood pressure. Aim to eat less than 6g (0.2oz) of salt a day (about a teaspoon).

Eating a low-fat diet that includes lots of fibre and plenty of fruit and vegetables also helps lower blood pressure.

Aim to eat 5 portions of fruit and vegetables every day.

Healthy Eating Active Living

Limit your alcohol intake

Regularly drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure over time.

Staying within the recommended levels is the best way to reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure. Men and women are advised not to regularly drink more than 14 units a week. You should spread your drinking over 3 days or more if you drink as much as 14 units a week.

Find out how many units are in your favourite drink and get tips on cutting down.

Alcohol is also high in calories. It will make you gain weight and can further increase your blood pressure.

Find out how about alcohol and weight gain

Lose weight

Being overweight forces your heart to work harder to pump blood around your body. This can raise your blood pressure.

Find out if you need to lose weight with the BMI healthy weight calculator

Losing a few pounds will make a big difference to your blood pressure and overall health.

Get active

Being active and taking regular exercise lowers blood pressure by keeping your heart and blood vessels in good condition.

Regular exercise can also help you lose weight. This will also help lower your blood pressure.

Adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. This could be cycling or fast walking.

Physical activity can include anything from sport to walking and gardening.

Get more ideas on how to get active

Cut down on caffeine

Drinking more than 4 cups of coffee a day may increase your blood pressure.

Consider cutting down on coffee, tea or other caffeine-rich drinks, such as cola and some energy drinks.

It's fine to drink tea and coffee as part of a balanced diet. But it's important that these drinks are not your main or only source of fluid.

Stop smoking

Smoking does not directly cause high blood pressure. But it puts you at much higher risk of a heart attack and stroke.

Smoking causes your arteries to narrow.

If you smoke and have high blood pressure, your arteries will narrow much more quickly. Your risk of heart or lung disease in the future is dramatically increased.

Get help to stop smoking

Get a good night's sleep

Long-term sleep deprivation is associated with a rise in blood pressure and an increased risk of hypertension.

It's a good idea to try to get at least 6 hours of sleep a night.

Read more about problems sleeping and tips to improve your sleep

Support

The Irish Heart Foundation has a telephone and online support service. Phone 01 6685 001 or email support@irishheart.ie  Monday to Friday 9am to 1pm.

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This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.

Page last reviewed: 3 January 2022
Next review due: 3 January 2025