High Blood Pressure is the Silent Killer – Are You at Risk?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one in three Americans have high blood pressure, while the American Institute for Preventative Medicine estimates that half of Americans have it. Only 47% of people who have been diagnosed with high blood pressure are effectively managing it, and even worse, many people have dangerously high blood pressure and don’t know it!
High blood pressure is known as the silent killer because it often has no symptoms but increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure. In fact, high blood pressure is responsible for approximately 1,000 deaths in the United States per day. Moreover, if you have high blood pressure, you’re four times more likely to die from a stroke and three times more likely to die from a heart attack.
What is High Blood Pressure?
The medical term for high blood pressure is hypertension. When your heart beats, it pumps blood through the blood vessels. If you have high blood pressure, the force of your blood against the blood vessels is too high, which strains the heart and damagers your blood vessels over time.
Your blood pressure is measured using two numbers. The top number is a systolic blood pressure, and it measures the pressure against the artery walls when the heart beats and pumps blood. The bottom number is the diastolic blood pressure, which measures how much pressure the blood puts on your blood vessels between heartbeats when the heart refills.
General guidelines for adult blood pressure levels say that a normal blood pressure is less than 120 systolic and less than 80 diastolic. High blood pressure is 140 or higher systolic and 90 or higher diastolic.
The Dangers of High Blood Pressure
Not only is high blood pressure the silent killer that can lead to death from a heart attack, stroke, or kidney failure, but it also plays a significant role in a variety of other health problems such as dementia, brain damage, chronic kidney disease, blindness, congestive heart failure, and heart disease. In fact, a person with high blood pressure is five times more likely to have a heart attack than a person without high blood pressure.
Some people have a greater risk of high blood pressure than others. For example, risk factors include:
- You have a family history of high blood pressure.
- You’re aging.
- You smoke.
- You’re African American.
- You’re male.
- You’re inactive.
- You’re obese.
- You have sleep apnea.
- You drink too much alcohol.
- You consume too much sodium.
- You’re experiencing emotional distress, including stress.
10 Tips to Reduce Your Risk of High Blood Pressure
The most important step you can take to reduce your risk of high blood pressure, the problems that come with it, and even death is to make healthy lifestyle changes. Here are 10 things you can do to improve your blood pressure:
- Get to and maintain a healthy weight.
- Don’t smoke.
- Exercise at least two hours and 30 minutes per week or a minimum of 30 minutes, five days per week.
- Limit alcohol to two or fewer drinks per day for men and one or fewer drinks per day for women or if you’re age 65 or older.
- Limit your caffeine intake.
- Limit your sodium consumption to 2,300 mg per day if you have high blood pressure, are African American, or you’re middle-aged and older. Use sodium-free spices instead of salt, and remember that most of the sodium Americans consume (and 90% of Americans consume too much) comes from processed foods and restaurant foods.
- Reduce and manage your stress level.
- Manage other health conditions such as diabetes and high cholesterol.
- Be cautious and talk to your doctor before you take antihistamines and decongestants, which can affect your blood vessels and increase your blood pressure and heart rate. This could be very dangerous if you have high blood pressure.
- Talk to your doctor if you’re at risk of high blood pressure. Take your medications as prescribed, and keep track of your blood pressure using a home testing device. When you take your blood pressure, make sure you follow the directions and do it correctly to get an accurate reading.
Are You Ready to Reduce or Manage Your Blood Pressure to Improve Your Health?
May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month, so I urge you to take some time this month to assess your risk level. Make an appointment with your doctor and get a physical. It’s a critical step that could save your life!
If you’re ready to reduce or manage your blood pressure, Talk to a Coach from Wellbeing Coaches who can help you make small changes in your life so you can take control of your blood pressure and live your healthiest, happiest life.
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All information contained on this website are for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended to be taken as medical or other health advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or a qualified medical professional. IN THE CASE OF A MEDICAL EMERGENCY OR SUICIDAL THOUGHTS, IMMEDIATELY CALL 911.
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