ARE YOU CHECKING YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE REGULARLY?
Have you had your blood pressure checked recently? It is a simple, painless step that helps monitor your numbers over time and can help detect the presence of high blood pressure which comes with a host of risk factors and serious health impacts. It is possible to mitigate high blood pressure through diet and exercise. And it is often easily treated with medication. Knowing your risks and implementing preventive measures can help keep you from experiencing serious health results from high blood pressure.
High blood pressure (also called hypertension) is, unfortunately, a very common disease, where our blood flows through the arteries at a higher pressure than normal. Uncontrolled high blood pressure increases your risk of complications such as kidney failure, heart attack, heart failure and stroke.
What causes high blood pressure?
Your lifestyle plays a huge impact on your chance of having high blood pressure. Talk to your doctor what factors may be affecting your blood pressure. Here are some common factors that lead to high blood pressure:
Age and gender
Family history of high blood pressure or heart disease
Other chronic conditions such as high cholesterol, diabetes etc.
Lack of physical activity
Tobacco use and heavy alcohol use
Race (non-Hispanic black people are more likely to have high blood pressure than people of other race)
How is high blood pressure diagnosed?
High blood pressure is diagnosed by checking your blood pressure with a monitor. The machine tell gives two numbers. The top number is your systolic reading (the peak blood pressure when your heart is squeezing blood out). The bottom number is your diastolic reading (the pressure when your heart is filling with blood).
Normal blood pressure is less than 120 on top and less than 80 on the bottom.
Prehypertension levels are 120-139 on top and 80-89 on the bottom.
High blood pressure, stage 1 is 140-159 on top and 90-99 on the bottom.
High blood pressure, stage 2 is 160 or higher on top and 100 and over on the bottom.
The higher your blood pressure is, the more often you need to have it checked. Your treatment depends on how high your blood pressure is, if you are having any symptoms and your risk factors of having complications from it. After age 18, we recommend that your blood pressure is checked at least once every two years at a doctor’s office. Do it more often if you have had high blood pressure in the past.
How do you treat high blood pressure?
Diet modification and exercise are the best way to lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease. Additionally, your doctor may prescribed medicine to lower your blood pressure called antihypertensive medications. If your high blood pressure is caused by an underlying condition such as diabetes or sleep apnea then treating those conditions can help reduce your high blood pressure. Some medicines can cause high blood pressure as a side effect, talk to your doctor to see if one of the medicines you take is causing high blood pressure.
Controlling your blood pressure is a lifelong commitment. You will always need to monitor your weight, make healthy food choices, exercise at least 30 mins a day, learn to cope with stress, avoid smoking, and limit your alcohol intake to no more than 1 drink a day for women and 2 drinks a day for men.
Check Pressure Regularly
It is quick and painless and really the only way to diagnose if your blood pressure is high. It can be checked at a local pharmacy, a doctor’s office, or even at home with the proper equipment. Talk to your doctor if you have high blood pressure to find out the cause and discuss your treatment options.
Quick links for more information on high blood pressure and treatment options:
Monitoring your blood pressure at home: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/understanding-blood-pressure-readings/monitoring-your-blood-pressure-at-home
What is Mediterranean Diet: https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/mediterranean-diet
Exercise: A drug-free approach to lowering high blood pressure: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/in-depth/high-blood-pressure/art-20045206
10 ways to control high blood pressure without medication: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/in-depth/high-blood-pressure/art-20046974