May Health Month: Blood Pressure
High blood pressure affects 1 in 3 American adults. Since there are few or no symptoms, make sure this silent killer doesn't sneak up on you. Whether you have high blood pressure or not, and especially if you're not sure, there are easy things you can do to keep healthy levels.
High Blood Pressure Affects 1 In 3 American Adults.
Don't Ignore The "Silent Killer"
We've all seen the commercials. High blood pressure is so frequently talked about that you almost can't avoid hearing about it daily. But have you checked your blood pressure lately? With age comes a higher risk of this silent killer creeping up on you, so it's something you can't afford to ignore.
What Is High Blood Pressure?
By definition, blood pressure is the force of blood in the circulatory system. It's measured by two numbers: the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats (systolic), and the pressure in between beats (diastolic). In seniors, high blood pressure (or hypertension) is considered systolic over 140 and diastolic over 90. If left untreated, high blood pressure is a primary cause of heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, and blindness. Race, genetics, poor diet, and physical inactivity are all linked to high blood pressure, but the exact cause is unknown. With few or no symptoms, it's something to get checked even if you feel normal.
Keep It Level
Here are some quick tips for maintaining healthy blood pressure levels as you age:
- Weight: keep it healthy, even dropping just a couple pounds if you're overweight
- Exercise: get 30 minutes a day, 6 days a week, but talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program
- Stress: try meditation or relaxing walks to calm your stress levels
- Diet: reduce salt and sugars, avoid saturated fat, limit alcohol, and eat more fruits and vegetables
4 Steps To Proper Treatment
If you develop high blood pressure, treating it is much easier than you may be aware of.
- Adjust your lifestyle. Make some small changes like being more active and doing what it takes to keep a healthy weight.
- Take trusted medications. Some proven prescriptions include diuretics (or "water pills" that reduce excess body water and salts), beta-blockers that reduce heart rate and relax blood vessels, ACE inhibitors, and calcium channel blockers.
- Monitor regularly. Measure and record your blood pressure at home, and share this log with your physician to determine the best treatments.
- See your personal doc often. We can keep a close eye on your blood pressure, adjust your medications and watch for side effects. If you do have side effects, we will discuss what to do and recommend other options.
To learn more about managing your blood pressure, search this topic on heart.org or talk with your doctor during your next visit.