People watching is a favorite of many. The next time you are in a crowd or traffic, look around. One in three people that you see could have high blood pressure. The American Heart Association estimates that 1 out of every 3 Americans have high blood pressure. With statistics like this, hypertension is and should be a topic of great concern. You will find not only a strong movement of education within the community, but that this alone constitutes many of the preventative practices within the office of your Healthcare Provider.
You are probably used to the routine of having your blood pressure checked when seeing your Physician. Checking blood pressure is an essential part of your visit for a couple of reasons. First, elevated blood pressure can signify the need to check for other conditions of the kidneys, heart and lungs. Second, and of equal importance, it will determine the course of action that needs to be taken. Remember, if left unchecked, the force of high blood pressure overtime can damage your blood vessels and heart, as well as other organs. Prevention is the key to avoiding further complications down the road.
Blood pressure consists of two numbers. Systolic number (top), which measures the force of the blood pushed against the artery walls as it is pumped by the heart through the body. The diastolic number (bottom), represents the pressure in between beats. A normal systolic and diastolic blood pressure reading is that of 120mm HG/80mm HG or below. As levels increase, they are categorized as; elevated at >120 mm HG/80mm HG and high at 140mm HG/90mmHG and above. Hypertension is defined as two or more elevated blood pressure of systolic blood pressure ≥140 mm Hg and/or diastolic blood pressure ≥90 mm Hg at two measures.
Prevention is truly the one step that can be taken to lower the risk of complications, disease, cardiovascular events and even death. This is where your Physician can help formulate a plan for success. It is important to follow the guidance of your Practitioner, especially if you are prescribed medication. Don’t be afraid to ask questions; you should understand the “why” behind any suggestion, prescription and decision. It can also help you to be aware of the signs and symptoms that can occur with hypertension such as: blurred vision, numbness or weakness in face arms or legs, nausea, vomiting, headache or confusion to name a few. Always contact your Physician or seek medical help should any of the preceding occur.
You play an important role in your own success. Your comprehension and confidence can help you to stay with the plan. So, what are some ways that you can help yourself when it comes to lowering your blood pressure? Here are some small changes that can have a big impact should you chose to incorporate them into your daily routine:
- Exercise regularly - take a walk, ride your bike for 30 minutes or more three times/week
- lower your salt intake
- Enjoy a diet that is lower in fat and higher in fruits and vegetables
-Limit alcohol consumption
- Manage stress – yoga, reading, gardening – something calming and enjoyable
- Smoking cessation
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