Wellness Wednesday: Managing high blood pressure

SALT LAKE CITY - High blood pressure is very common, but many do not take it seriously. In fact, 1 in 3 U.S. adults – that’s nearly 68 million, have high blood pressure. That’s why this potentially life-threatening disease is often referred to as the “silent stalker.”

High blood pressure is dangerous if left untreated. In fact, high blood pressure is one of the most important risk factors for heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, and diabetes complications – contributing to nearly 1,000 deaths daily. While effective treatments have been available for more than 50 years, fewer than half of Americans with high blood pressure have their condition under control.

What is high blood pressure?

High blood pressure (also referred to as hypertension), is when your blood pressure, the force of blood flowing through your blood vessels, is consistently too high.  Before diagnosing high blood pressure, your healthcare provider will check your blood pressure. A blood pressure measurement is expressed as two numbers: systolic “over” diastolic.

  • Systolic blood pressure – the top number – is the pressure in your arteries when the heart contracts, or beats, pushing blood through the arteries.
  • Diastolic blood pressure – the bottom number – is the pressure remaining in your arteries when the heart relaxes between beats.
  • Normal blood pressure is below 120/80
  • Blood pressure between 120/80 and 129/80 is considered elevated
  • Blood pressure of 130/80 or above is considered high

Risk Factors you can’t change:

  • Family history – high blood pressure tends to run in the family.
  • Age – Generally, the older you get the greater chance you have of getting high blood pressure. Most common ages are 35-50 for men and women-after menopause.
  • Race – If you’re of African America descent your risk of high blood pressure is much higher.

Many people do not realize you have more control over high blood pressure than you might think you have.

Here are the risk factors you can change:

  • Inactivity – People not active have a 20-50% increased risk.
  • Being overweight – Excess weight gain adds extra stress to the heart and arteries.
  • Poor diet – Eating too much salt, drinking too much alcohol, and poor eating habits can also increase your risk of high blood pressure.
  • Stress – Bodies respond to stress by raising blood pressure, unmanaged and ongoing stress will keep blood pressure high.
  • Smoking – Each time you smoke a cigarette, it causes an immediate and significant rise in blood pressure.

It’s all about lifestyle change. If you’ve been told you have high blood pressure, don’t be discouraged. You and your care provider can work through it. Often lifestyle changes can make a big difference. You can follow this simple name: MAWDS

M – Take your medication. Make your medication part of your routine, and don’t stop taking medication just because your blood pressure is ok. It probably just means its working!

A – Stay active each day. Shoot for 30 minutes x 5 days = 150 minutes.

W – Manage a healthy weight: Make changes to your diet and activity level – even a small amount will help.

D – Eat a healthy diet: Start by adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet.

S – Stop smoking and managing your stress.

Work with your care provider to find a nutrition, exercise, and care plan that will work for you – then reap the rewards of healthy living.

Takkng care of your heart now can help prevent heart disease and high blood pressure.

Download a FREE Heart Owner’s Manual e-book to guide you through the things you can do to keep your heart healthy and prevent high blood pressure.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.