Don’t let hypertension sneak up on you
GEHA | May 31, 2023
The symptoms of high blood pressure are subtle, but the health threats can be life-changing. They include heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney disease, vision loss, erectile dysfunction or lowered libido, angina and peripheral artery disease.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, has no obvious symptoms, which is why it is often referred to as the silent killer. However, because hypertension is often symptomless doesn’t mean you should let it sneak up on you.
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing on the walls of your arteries. 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, which measures the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats. The bottom number is diastolic pressure. This measures the pressure in your blood vessels between heart beats when your heart is at rest.
The only way to know if you have hypertension is to regularly measure your blood pressure. Here are some lifestyle changes that can combat high blood pressure:
- Monitor your blood pressure at home and see your doctor regularly. High or elevated blood pressure has no symptoms, so checking your blood pressure is the only way to know whether it’s too high.
- Don’t stop medication for high blood pressure. Stopping your medicine without first talking to your doctor could lead to serious health consequences.
- Limit alcohol. Drinking alcohol increases blood pressure.
- Quit smoking. This can also help reduce your risk of heart disease.
- Reduce stress. Think about what causes you to feel stressed, such as work, family, finances or illness. Then consider how you can reduce this stress.
- Eat a healthy diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products.
- Reduce sodium in your diet. In general, limit sodium to 2,300 milligrams (mg) or less a day. Herbs and spices are great substitutes for salt on food.
- Exercise regularly. It’s important to be consistent because if you stop exercising, your blood pressure can rise again. Examples of aerobic exercise you may try are walking, jogging, cycling, swimming or dancing. Strength training may also help reduce blood pressure. Talk to your doctor about developing an exercise program.
- Lose extra pounds. Blood pressure often increases as weight increases. Being overweight can also cause sleep apnea, further raising your blood pressure.
The 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.” mayoclinic.org, Mayo Clinic, 12 July, 2022.
“What is high blood pressure?” heart.org, American Heart Association, August 2021.
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