Effective steps for keeping blood pressure in the safe zone, from Harvard Men's Health Watch

Maintaining a healthy blood pressure is vital for good health. Keeping yours below 120/80 is the ideal goal for dodging a host of afflictions, including heart disease, kidney failure, and erectile dysfunction.

But about half of all Americans with high blood pressure (hypertension) have not reached their goals, reports the July 2012 issue of the Harvard Men's Health Watch. Many people are still "out of control" after taking basic lifestyle steps like eating a heart-healthy diet.

When lifestyle changes fail to fix the problem, doctors tend to reach for the prescription pad and add medication, says Dr. William Kormos, editor-in-chief of Harvard Men's Health Watch and a primary care physician at Massachusetts General Hospital.

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