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Q. Americans have a 90 percent chance of developing high blood pressure at some point in life, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute [part of the National Institutes of Health]. Why is hypertension so prevalent?

A. It reflects ubiquitous environmental exposures—excess salt, overweight or obesity, inadequate physical activity and poor diet. There are also genetic factors involved, but because high blood pressure is so prevalent, it’s likely that these [lifestyle] factors play a huge, and likely dominant, role.

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