About 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. has high blood pressure, but many don’t realize it. High blood pressure is sometimes called a “silent killer,” because it usually has no warning signs, yet it can lead to life-threatening conditions like heart attack or stroke. The good news is that high blood pressure, or hypertension, can often be prevented or treated. Early diagnosis and simple, healthy changes can keep high blood pressure from seriously damaging your health.
Normal blood flow delivers nutrients and oxygen to all parts of your body, including important organs like your heart, brain, and kidneys. Your beating heart helps to push blood through your vast network of blood vessels, both large and small. Your blood vessels, in turn, constantly adjust. They become narrower or wider to maintain your blood pressure and keep blood flowing at a healthy rate.
It’s normal for your blood pressure to go up and down throughout each day. Blood pressure is affected by time of day, exercise, the foods you eat, stress, and other factors. Problems can arise, though, if your blood pressure stays too high for too long.
High blood pressure can make your heart work too hard and lose strength. The high force of blood flow can damage your blood vessels, making them weak, stiff, or narrower. Over time, hypertension can harm several important organs, including your heart, kidneys, brain, and eyes.
“Hypertension is a leading risk factor for death and disability worldwide,” says Dr. Paul Whelton, an expert in hypertension and kidney disease at Tulane University. “High blood pressure raises the risk of having a heart attack, heart failure, stroke, or kidney disease.”
For Healthy Blood Pressure
Keep a healthy weight. Ask your doctor if you need to lose weight.
Be physically active. Get moving for at least 30 minutes most days of the week.
Eat a healthy diet. Choose an eating plan rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and low-fat dairy and low in saturated fat and added sugars.
Cut down on salt. Many Americans eat more sodium (found in salt) than they need. Most of the salt comes from processed food (such as soup and baked goods).
Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all. Men should have no more than 2 drinks a day; women no more than 1 drink a day.
Don’t smoke. Smoking raises your risk for heart disease, stroke, and other health problems.
Get a good night’s sleep. Tell your doctor if you’ve been told you snore or sound like you stop breathing briefly when you sleep—a possible sign of sleep apnea. Treating sleep apnea and getting a good night’s sleep can help reduce blood pressure.
Take prescribed drugs as directed. If you need drugs to help lower your blood pressure, you still should follow the lifestyle changes described above.
For more information feel free to schedule a consultation with Align Body & Wellness today.