More than 65 million Americans have high blood pressure but over 20 million of them don’t know it. While you may not feel any symptoms, unmanaged high blood pressure may put you at risk for serious medical conditions.
Your heart beats about 100.000 times each day, pumping 2,000 gallons of blood through your blood vessels. The force of blood against the inside walls of your vessels, plus your vessels’ resistance to blood flow, create blood pressure
Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury and is stated in terms of systolic over diastolic. For example, if your blood pressure is 120/80 millimeters of mercury the top number of 120 is your systolic measurement. The bottom number of 80 is your diastolic measurement.
A normal blood pressure for most adults is less than 120/80 millimeters of mercury. If blood pressure is at or above 140/90 millimeters of mercury , this is a serious health problem especially for people with diabetes or chronic kidney disease. Only your doctor can recommend what treatment or medications are right for you.
Some people think the symptoms of high blood pressure are frequent headaches and dizziness. Although you may feel these things, most people with high blood pressure have no symptoms. That is why it is important to monitor your blood pressure regularly. If you know your blood pressure is too high, you can do something about it.
Blood pressure can vary due to exercise or your body’s response to the environment, temperature or stress. It is possible for blood pressure to be higher at the doctors office due to anxiety and tension. This is commonly called “white coat syndrome”. So it is important to know your regular, relaxed blood pressure by measuring it daily at home.
Some risk factors for high blood pressure are beyond your control such as gender, age, race and genetics, but you can make lifestyle choices to help manage your blood pressure. About half of all people with mild high blood pressure can manage their condition by adopting healthy habits. Look at the list below to find out what you can do about lowering your blood pressure.
1. QUIT SMOKING. Smoking can lead to the build up of plaque that clogs the blood vessels that supply the heart with blood. A smoker’s risk of heart attack is double that of a non-smoker.
2. EXERCISE. Exercise and physical activity help strengthen your heart, reduce stress and help you lose weight—all of which can lower your blood pressure.
3. DIET. Many people who have high blood pressure are also overweight. Maintaining a healthy, low-fat diet can help you lose weight and may lower your blood pressure.
4. SALT INTAKE. Many people consume far more salt than their bodies actually need. Eating too much salt can contribute to high blood pressure. Reducing the amount of salt in your diet can help lower your blood pressure.
5. STRESS. Stress can come from many places—your job, financial pressures, family issues. It can also contribute to high blood pressure. Look for ways to reduce the stress in your life and you may find that your blood pressure improves.
Lifestyle changes may help but they may not be enough. There are many different blood pressure medications that can help.
Some risk factors for high blood pressure that cannot be modified by healthy lifestyle changes are inherited, such as being male or having a family history of early heart attacks or strokes.
Factors associated with high blood pressure include:
1. AGE. It is likely that your blood pressure will increase with age. For men, the risk begins rise significantly at the age of 55. For women the risk escalates at age 65.
2. GENDER. Men are more likely to have high blood pressure than women—until a woman reaches menopause. Women tend to ultimately have the same risk of cardio-vascular disease as men but generally develop it ten years later. Despite the sex difference, coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women.
High blood pressure is considered risky business in this day and age. Controlling your blood pressure is part of the health factor that can help you live a longer, more productive life. So check your blood pressure on a regular basis and make your doctor aware of any changes.