High blood pressure can be controlled

Reduce your risk of hypertension by taking control of your lifestyle.

High blood pressure is often called the “silent killer” because there are no symptoms. According to many physicians, you can have hypertension and feel just fine. Many people that do not go to their physician regularly may have hypertension and not even realize it. The disease can cause strokes, heart disease, kidney failure and eye problems.

Michigan State University Extension recommends making healthy meal choices, exercising more, and monitoring your health with a physician. Also, try breathing and relaxing exercises that can reduce stress.

Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries. When someone measures your blood pressure they will provide you with two numbers. The top number is called the systolic pressure, this number measures the pressure when your heart beats. It is ideal to have less than 120 for the systolic pressure. The diastolic pressure is the lower number and measures the pressure while your heart relaxes between beats. This number should be less than 80.

If either of these numbers are high, your doctor may prescribe medication. You may have pre-hypertension. Pre-hypertension can put you at risk for developing high blood pressure.

There are risk factors for hypertension that you can’t change such as:

  • Age: The risk of high blood pressure increases as we get older.
  • Gender: Women are more likely to have high blood pressure after menopause and men before the age of 55.
  • Race: African Americans are at greater risk of high blood pressure.
  • Family History: High blood pressure has a tendency to run in families.

The good news is there are factors you can control when dealing with high blood pressure:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight: Being overweight adds to your risk of high blood pressure.
  • Exercise every day: Moderate exercise can lower the risk of high blood pressure.
  • Eat a healthy diet: A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products may help lower high blood pressure.
  • Cut down on salt: A low salt diet may help reduce high blood pressure.
  • Drink less alcohol: Drinking alcohol can affect your blood pressure.
  • Don’t smoke: Smoking increases your risk for high blood pressure.
  • Manage stress: Stress can cause blood pressure go up.

Although these are simple steps to take and generally will help control our health, you should seek a doctor’s care when dealing with high blood pressure. Medicine can help control your blood pressure but not cure it. By changing your health habits and being under a doctor’s care you will have a better quality of life.

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