Nearly half of the American population over age 20, has high blood pressure (HBP), and many do not even know it. Not treating high blood pressure is dangerous, as it increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. Joining us tonight for our special series this month on high blood pressure is Angelina Davis, manager of Cardiac Rehab at United Hospital Center.
1). Angelina, could I be at higher risk of developing high blood pressure (HBP)?
There are risk factors that increase your chances of developing HBP. Some you can control, and some you cannot.
Those that can be controlled are:
• Cigarette smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke
• Being obese or overweight
• High cholesterol
• Unhealthy diet (high in sodium, low in potassium, and drinking too much alcohol)
• Physical inactivity
Factors that cannot be modified or are difficult to control are:
• Family history of high blood pressure
• Race/ethnicity • Increasing age
• Gender (males)
• Chronic kidney disease
• Obstructive sleep apnea
Socioeconomic status and psychosocial stress are also risk factors for HBP. These can affect access to basic living needs, medication, health care providers, and the ability to adopt lifestyle changes.
2). How can I tell that I have high blood pressure?
The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to get it checked regularly by your health care provider. For proper diagnosis of HBP, your health care provider will use an average based on two or more readings obtained on two or more visits.
If our viewers have been watching HouseCall the last few weeks, they have learned how to take their own blood pressure. They now know when to record their blood pressure, too. These same readings are also ones that you will want to share with your doctor.
3). What can I do about HBP?
• Do not smoke and avoid secondhand smoke.
• Reach and maintain a healthy weight.
• Eat a healthy diet that is low in saturated and trans fats and rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. Aim to consume less than 1,500 mg/day of sodium (salt). Even reducing your daily intake by 1,000 mg can help.
• Eat foods rich in potassium. Aim for 3,500 – 5,000 mg of dietary potassium per day.
• Limit alcohol to no more than one drink per day if you are a woman or two drinks a day if you are a man.
• Be more physically active. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or at least 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week, or a combination of both, spread throughout the week. Add muscle-strengthening activity at least two days per week for more health benefits.
• Take medicine the way your health care provider tells you.
• Know what your blood pressure should be and work to keep it at that level.
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