Understanding and taking control of your blood pressure

High blood pressure, sometimes called hypertension, isn't nervous tension. People who have high blood pressure don't have to be tense, compulsive or nervous. In fact, you can have high blood pressure and not know it. High blood pressure usually has no symptoms, earning it the name "The silent killer." However, it can be managed by paying attention to risk factors and taking action.

Risk factors you can control:
  • Obesity - people with a body mass index (BMI) of 30.0 or higher are more likely to develop high blood pressure.
  • Eating too much salt - This increases blood pressure in some people.
  • Alcohol - Heavy and regular use of alcohol can increase blood pressure dramatically.
  • Lack of exercise - An inactive lifestyle makes it easier to become overweight and also increases the chance of high blood pressure.
  • Stress - This is often mentioned as a risk factor. However, stress levels are hard to measure and responses to stress vary from person to person.

Risk factors you can't control:
  • Race - African Americans develop high blood pressure more often than other races, and it tends to occur earlier and be more severe.
  • Heredity - A tendency to have high blood pressure runs in families. If your parents or other close blood relatives have it, you're more likely to develop it.
  • Age - In general, the older you get, the greater your chance of developing high blood pressure. It occurs most often in people over age 35. Men seem to develop it most often between age 35 and 50. Women are more likely to develop it after menopause.

Damage to your body
High blood pressure adds to the workload of your heart and arteries. Because your heart must work harder than normal for a long time, it tends to enlarge and has a harder time meeting your body's demands.

What can be done?
Most treatments for high blood pressure rely on a combination of diet, exercise and medication.
  • Diet - Many people with high blood pressure are also overweight. If this is true for you, your doctor or a registered dietitian can help you start or follow a diet. Often when people lose weight, their blood pressure drops automatically. Once a diet has been prescribed for you, stick to it.
  • Exercise and Recreation - Don't be afraid to be active. Physical activity should be part of your daily regimen. It can even help you lose weight or stay at your best weight.
  • Medication - Some people need medication to help them reduce high blood pressure. Every person reacts differently to medication. You may need a trial period before your doctor finds the best medicine for you.

How can you help yourself?
Keep your appointments with your doctor, take prescribed blood pressure medications as directed and follow medical advice about diet and exercise. High blood pressure is a lifelong disease. It can be controlled, but not cured. By controlling your high blood pressure, you'll lower your risk of diseases like stroke, heart attack, heart failure and kidney disease.

If you're having a hard time managing your blood pressure, maybe it's time to see a specialist. Request an appointment at Demanddeborah.org/request-appointment or give us a call at (800) 555-1990.

And if you're interested in a clinical study to see if a new therapy may be effective in reducing blood pressure in patients with Resistant Hypertension? Click here for more information and to see if you may be eligible.

Source: American Heart Association, Fighting Heart Disease and Stroke
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