It’s estimated that about 75 million Americans, or 1 in 3 adults, currently have high blood pressure — which is a leading cause of heart disease. While high blood pressure (HBP, also known as hypertension) is a pervasive health issue in our society, the good news is that HBP is most often a direct result of one’s lifestyle choices. By understanding HBP and what causes it, most people can keep their blood pressure at healthy levels and prevent HBP-related health problems. Read on to find out what you need to know about high blood pressure.
Dangers of High Blood Pressure
For most people with high blood pressure, there are often no outward symptoms. That doesn’t mean, however, that symptoms and/or risks aren’t present. Heart disease, stroke, and other health problems have all been closely linked to high blood pressure.
HBP is exactly what it sounds like — it puts excessive pressure on your arteries. Arteries become damaged from this increased pressure, and can get clogged with fat or rupture in an aneurysm, leading to internal bleeding. Seeing as the risks of hypertension are so severe, it is imperative that individuals know what their blood pressure situation is, and take necessary precautions to control it.
Combatting High Blood Pressure
While there are medications that can help reduce high blood pressure, the only way to really tackle the problem is to make changes to your lifestyle, and address key issues which caused your blood pressure to rise in the first place.
Losing weight is the most effective way to lower your blood pressure. This should be done through a combination of regular exercise and a healthy diet. 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week of walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, or other cardio activities can help lower blood pressure to safer levels. Additionally, eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and grains — while skimping on saturated fats, sodium, and alcohol — can bring your blood pressure down to safer levels. Other preventative measures to reduce blood pressure include quitting smoking, reducing caffeine consumption, and limiting stress.
Monitoring Your Blood Pressure
Your first line of defense against high blood pressure is know what your blood pressure is. As there are no consistent symptoms of hypertension, the only way to know for sure if you have high blood pressure is to have it checked regularly by a qualified medical professional.
This is typically done at an annual doctor’s appointment with your primary care physician — but if you’d like to find out your blood pressure now and don’t want to hassle with an appointment, you can have your blood pressure checked by a doctor or nurse at an urgent care center. If you’re someone who already has high blood pressure, or is at risk of having it, it’s a good idea to make a concentrated effort to lower your blood pressure. Visit an urgent care center every few months to track your progress and make sure your blood pressure doesn’t increase. Ask your doctor or nurse for additional tips on how to control your blood pressure, and you’ll notice the health benefits!