According to shocking new statistics from the American Heart Association, almost half of all American adults (100 million of us) have high blood pressure. Even more alarming is the skyrocketing number of deaths from the condition; from 2005 to 2015, mortality from the condition has risen by 38 percent. While the rise in deaths is likely due to several different factors, learning about high blood pressure and how to treat it can help you to stay healthy.
What is high blood pressure? Your doctor will define your blood pressure as “too high” when the top number is at least 130 and the bottom number is over 80. This is a new standard, upgraded by the American College of Cardiology in 2017.
How do you prevent high blood pressure? To a significant degree, you can control your blood pressure via healthy lifestyle decisions.
With regard to diet, focus on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Include some fish, poultry, low-fat dairy, beans, nuts, and seeds. Limit salt in the diet, keeping your intake below 1,500 mg per day, and avoid alcohol. Women should allow themselves just one drink, and men can have two, per day.
As for exercise, just 30 minutes of moderate activity in the morning can lower your blood pressure for the rest of the day. Those with a sedentary lifestyle should also take frequent breaks to get up and move around throughout the day.
What about medications? Those with borderline, or Stage One, hypertension can often control their blood pressure with diet and exercise alone. If your top number falls between 130 and 139, or your bottom number ranges between 80 and 89, you might not need medication. Of course, you should consult with your doctor about this decision and monitor your blood pressure closely to be sure that your lifestyle changes are doing the job.
For everyone else, medication might become necessary. Many doctors have found that using more than one drug in combination provides the most reliable results. If your physician feels that you need more than one medication, ask them to explain how each drug functions. What works for one patient might not be an appropriate regimen for another.
High blood pressure damages more than just your heart. Hypertension is also linked to mild cognitive impairment with age, and damage to organs such as the kidneys. Monitor your blood pressure regularly, and attend regular check-ups with your primary care physician to keep this condition under control.