Guide To Hypertension
One third of Americans have high blood pressure (hypertension), and a majority of them do not have it under control according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Hypertension is known as a silent killer. There can be little or no symptoms until it is too late and you have a heart attack or stroke. The only way to know if you have, or do not have, high blood pressure is to check your blood pressure yourself or have it checked by a health professional.
The Problem With Hypertension
Constant high blood pressure injures blood vessel walls and forces your heart to work harder. This increases your risk of heart attack, strokes, and premature death.
Since hypertension causes little or no symptoms, it goes unnoticed or people prescribed blood pressure medicine stop taking the medication due to side affects which they believe are worse than having high blood pressure.
Of the 67 million Americans with hypertension, the CDC found 39 percent don’t even know they have it, and 54 percent don’t have it under control.
The Risks of Hypertension
The risks of hypertension increases as you age. You are also at higher risk if you:
- Have relatives with hypertension
- Are overweight
- Live a sedentary lifestyle
- Eat high sodium foods
- Drink too much alcohol
- Are often stressed
Controlling Hypertension with Medication
Exercise, a healthy diet, and anti-hypertension medications usually control high blood pressure.
According to the CDC, 45 percent of those with uncontrolled hypertension were taking their medication. To know if your medication is keeping your hypertension under control, you must check your blood pressure regularly. There are many affordable and easy to use home blood pressure monitors. The arm cuff monitors are more accurate than wrist monitors.
If your medication is not keeping your blood pressure under control, your doctor can change the medication or dose. Medication will not lower your blood pressure if you do not take it!
The proper dosage and drug(s) can take some experimenting. For some people it may take two or three medications to control your blood pressure.
Controlling Hypertension with Lifestyle Changes
Moderate exercise for 150 minutes per day (2.5 hours) per week and following a Mediterranean style diet or the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet can lower and control your blood pressure and sometimes make medication unnecessary. DASH features reduced sodium and saturated fat, more fruits and vegetables, and whole grains, and nutrients known to help reduce blood pressure like calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
The following chart has the American Heart Association categories for blood pressure. If you think you have high blood pressure have it confirmed by a doctor.
Source: Harvard Health Letter