Blood Pressure: Risk Factors and Healthy Choices
As you know, blood pressure is an important factor in your overall health and wellbeing. It can be too high or too low and both of these conditions can be dangerous. While low blood pressure is certainly a concern, there is good reason to focus on high blood pressure because of the increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. The risk of high blood pressure increases with age, and 70% of adults over the age of 65 suffer from high blood pressure. Understanding what causes high blood pressure and knowing what steps you can take at home to manage it is essential to keeping yourself well and generally feeling better.
What is Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is pressure exerted on the arteries, which are thin, muscular tubes that carry blood to and from the heart and throughout the body. It is normal for blood pressure to rise and fall throughout the day.
Blood pressure is measured using two numbers:
Systolic measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats.
Diastolic measures the pressure in the arteries in between beats when the heart is resting.
The measurement is written out with systolic over diastolic. So, if your blood pressure reading was 120 systolic and 80 diastolic, it would be 120 over 80.
What is Normal Blood Pressure?
According to the CDC, adults should aim to keep their blood pressure less than 120 over 80. Elevated blood pressure is 120-129 over 80. Blood pressure higher than these numbers is known as hypertension.
While it is normal for blood pressure to change throughout the day, blood pressure that is consistently high is known as hypertension. Hypertension is extremely common in the United States and is often called the “silent killer” as the majority of people with hypertension do not experience symptoms and can suffer from high blood pressure for years without knowing it, which is why routine monitoring is essential.
There are two types of hypertension:
Primary (essential) hypertension occurs when there is no identifiable cause. This type of hypertension is the most common.
Secondary hypertension is caused by another condition, including the following:
- Sleep apnea
- Kidney disease
- Thyroid problems
- Certain medications
No matter the reason for it, hypertension has negative health consequences. People with uncontrolled hypertension are at a higher risk of:
- Heart attack
- Kidney disease
- In some cases, these risk factors can contribute to a cause of death
Managing Blood Pressure
Hypertension is a serious problem, but thankfully there are a number of ways to control and treat it. Depending on the type of hypertension, your doctor might recommend some of the following ways to manage your hypertension:
- Cut back on sodium
- Limit the amount of alcoholic beverages you consume
- Get physically active
- Quit smoking
- Eat a DASH Diet (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension)
These are all lifestyle changes you can incorporate into your daily routine to manage your blood pressure. However, depending on your own personal health and wellness needs, your doctor may prescribe a medication as well.
Living With High Blood Pressure
A diagnosis of hypertension can be challenging, but it does not mean there is nothing you can do about it. If you have been diagnosed with hypertension, talk with your Doctor or APRN about what you can do. Thankfully, the Care Providers at Reliance Medical Centers are expert at detecting signs and symptoms of high blood pressure and ways to combat the effects of hypertension. They will work with you to create a plan to manage your blood pressure and help get you on track to achieving your health and wellness goals.
Schedule a Tour
Ready to make the switch? Contact Reliance today to schedule your tour with one of our Health & Wellness Navigators.