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Learn more about hypertension (high blood pressure) and how to prevent it in this month’s Health & Wellness blog.
High blood pressure or hypertension is known as a “silent killer” since most people with hypertension rarely experience any symptoms at all. The great news is that for most people, hypertension can be easily prevented and managed with a few lifestyle changes.
What is hypertension?
According to the Mayo Clinic, high blood pressure (hypertension) is a common condition in which the long-term force of the blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems, such as heart disease.
Blood pressure is determined both by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure.
If left untreated, hypertension can lead to other health issues like kidney failure, stroke, or even death.
Know your numbers
It’s important to know your blood pressure.
A blood pressure reading has two numbers:
Top number (systolic pressure). The first, or upper, number measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats.
Bottom number (diastolic pressure). The second, or lower, number measures the pressure in your arteries between beats.
Ideally, you should have your blood pressure taken at least once a year during your doctor’s appointment. If you have risk factors for high blood pressure (ex. family history, over 40, overweight/obese, tobacco usage, etc.) your doctor may want to monitor your blood pressure more frequently. Your blood pressure is normal if it's below 120/80 mm Hg.
Prevention and Management
Some risk factors, like age, are out of our control. Others, like sodium intake, can be reduced along with other lifestyle changes to help prevent and treat hypertension. Other lifestyle changes can include:
If lifestyle changes alone are not working, your doctor might prescribe medications to help reduce your blood pressure. As always, take your medications as directed and let your pharmacist and/or your doctor know if you have any questions.
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