The older you become the more likely it is that you will be diagnosed with high blood pressure (HBP). Hypertension is a blood pressure reading of over 140 (upper number or systolic pressure), and higher than 90 (lower number or diastolic pressure). Systolic pressure is the number measured when your heart beats and diastolic is the number when your heart is at rest between beats. You can have HBP for years and not experience any symptom which is why it is known as the silent killer. HBP is the blood pushing against artery walls more forcefully (higher pressure) which is how damage is caused over a period of time. People with HPB are at an added risk for heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, and other serious complications.
Blood pressure should be checked on several different occasions over a period of a couple of weeks. Blood pressure can be checked at home with a home blood pressure measurement device or monitor. It is important that you know how to use the monitor correctly and that the cuff fits you properly. For example, a cuff that is too small may give you a reading that is higher than it actually is.
Once it is established that you have suffer from hypertension, there are a number of things you can do to improve the situation. It is recommended that you:
- Limit your intake of sodium (some studies suggest no more than a teaspoon a day)
- Exercise at least 30 minutes a day
- Control your weight, and if you have a high BMI, try and reduce your weight
- Follow the DASH diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension which is a low-fat diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and grains
There are several different categories of drugs that are used to treat hypertension. Sometimes a doctor may prescribe a combination of drugs. Even with taking the medications, it is important to follow a healthy lifestyle.
For informational purposes only, please consult your health care provider if you have any questions regarding your health.
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