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Combat your high blood pressure

GEHA | September 22, 2022

Untreated hypertension can seriously damage your health.

Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing on the walls of your arteries. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is blood pressure that is higher than normal. More than half of all adult Americans have high blood pressure; of those, at least half do not have it under control.

If your blood pressure is 140/90 or above, you have high blood pressure. The top number in your blood pressure measurement is called systolic pressure. It measures the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats. The bottom number is diastolic pressure. It measures the pressure in your blood vessels between heart beats when your heart is at rest.

The condition has no obvious symptoms, which is why it is often referred to as the silent killer. However, just because hypertension is silent doesn’t mean you should let it sneak up on you. Learn the effects of high blood pressure and ways to combat it.

Health risks

Untreated hypertension can seriously damage your health. It results in hardened arteries, which restrict the flow of blood and oxygen to your heart. This restriction can result in heart attack and heart failure, a condition where your heart does not pump enough blood and oxygen to your other organs. Untreated high blood pressure can also disrupt the flow of oxygen to the brain, which may result in a stroke. Stroke can lead to death or disability in speech and movement. People with diabetes, hypertension or both also have an increased risk of developing kidney disease; specifically, close to one in five adults with hypertension has kidney disease.

The only way to know if you have hypertension is to regularly measure your blood pressure. Adults with high blood pressure or prehypertension should monitor their blood pressure regularly.

Methods to control high blood pressure

Knowledge is power, so it is important to know your numbers. Get your blood pressure checked during regularly scheduled appointments with your health care provider. If it tends to be on the higher side, consider purchasing a blood pressure cuff and learn to check your numbers yourself.

Nutrition also plays an important role in controlling high blood pressure. A heart healthy diet is suggested for people with high blood pressure. To follow a heart healthy diet, you can read food labels and choose low-sodium options, cut back on fried and processed foods, and limit sweets and added sugars. You can also eat foods that are naturally low in fat such as lean meat, berries, vegetables and whole grains. The DASH eating plan specifically is proven to help lower blood pressure.

To control your blood pressure, you can additionally:

  • Be physically active
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Limit your alcohol intake
  • Keep a close eye on caffeine
  • Stop smoking
  • Reduce stress
  • See your doctor regularly

More on hypertension

Overall, practicing a healthy lifestyle will help keep your blood pressure under control. Maintain a healthy diet, take all medications as prescribed and get your routine health screenings. For more information on high blood pressure, check out the GEHA blog.

Disclaimer: This information contained herein is for informational and educational purposes only. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice and if you have questions regarding a medical condition, regimen, or treatment you should always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider. Never disregard or delay seeking medical advice from a qualified medical professional because of information you have read herein. 

“10 ways to control high blood pressure without medication.”, Mayo Clinic, 24 February 2021
“DASH diet: healthy eating to lower your blood pressure.”, Mayo Clinic, 25 June 2021  
“DASH Eating Plan.”, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 29 December 2021
“Facts about hypertension.”, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25 February 2020
“How to prevent high blood pressure.”, National Library of Medicine, 28 February 2017
“High blood pressure symptoms and causes.”, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 7 July 2014