Why it's important to worry about high blood pressure?
- It’s VERY common. About 1 in 3 US adults, nearly 68 million, has high blood pressure.
- It’s dangerous. High blood pressure is one of the most important risk factors for heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, and diabetes complications — contributing to nearly 1,000 deaths a day.
- It’s undertreated. While effective treatments have been available for more than 50 years, fewer than half of Americans with high BP have their condition under control.
Related: Free Heart Guide – Download Now
More than 1 in 3 people with high blood pressure don’t even know they have it. That’s why this potentially life-threatening disease is sometimes referred to as the “silent stalker”— or even the “silent killer.”
How is high blood pressure diagnosed?
Before diagnosing high blood pressure, your healthcare providers will check — and recheck — your blood pressure. They’ll also ask questions about your personal and family health history, check your weight, and possibly do some lab tests. Part of the reason for these tests is to find out if another condition is causing your high blood pressure — or if your high blood pressure is leading to other problems (such as heart disease or kidney disease).
Your doctor may also ask you to take and record your own blood pressure at home. This can help establish your normal blood pressure pattern.
A blood pressure measurement is expressed as two numbers: systolic “over” diastolic.
- Systolic blood pressure — the top number — is the pressure in your arteries when the heart contracts, or beats, pushing blood through the arteries.
- Diastolic blood pressure — the bottom number — is the pressure remaining in your arteries when the heart relaxes between beats.
What Causes High Blood Pressure?
Risk factors you CAN’T change:
- Family history – high blood pressure tends to run in the family
- Age – Generally, the older you get the, the greater chance you have of getting high blood pressure. Most common ages are 35-50 for men, and women, after menopause.
- Race – If you’re of African America descent your risk of high blood pressure is much higher.
Risk factors you CAN change:
- Inactivity – People not active have a 20 – 50% increased risk
- Being overweight – Excess weight gain adds extra stress to the heart and arteries.
- Poor diet – Eating too much salt, drinking too much alcohol, and poor eating habits can also increase your risk of high blood pressure.
- Stress – Bodies respond to stress by raising blood pressure, unmanaged and ongoing stress will keep blood pressure high.
- Smoking – Each time you smoke a cigarette, it causes an immediate and significant rise in blood pressure.
It’s All About Lifestyle Change
If you’ve been told you have high blood pressure, don’t be discouraged. You and your care provider can work through it. Often lifestyle changes can make a big difference. You can follow this simple name: MAWDS
M – Take your medication: Make you medication part of your routine, and don’t stop taking medication just because your blood pressure is ok. It probably just means its working!
A – Stay active each day: shoot for 30 minutes x 5 days = 150 minutes
W – Manage a healthy weight: Make changes to your diet and activity level – even a small amount will help!
D – Eat a healthy diet: Start by adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet.
S – Stop smoking and manage stress.
You have more control over high blood pressure than you think. Work with your care provider to find a nutrition, exercise, and care plan that will work for you - then reap the rewards of healthy living.