In the state of Mississippi, 700,000 people have been diagnosed with high blood pressure and thousands more are at risk. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is one of the major risks of both heart disease and stroke. However, high blood pressure is completely avoidable if you begin taking care of your heart—and your overall health—today. Learn how to manage your blood pressure today and avoid a future filled with potentially life-threatening issues.
Measuring Blood Pressure
There are no symptoms that will indicate high blood pressure, which is why it’s often referred to as the silent killer. Without an outward sign to to look for, it’s important to be aware of your blood pressure and know whether or not you are at risk for hypertension. Your physician can easily determine your blood pressure or you can visit your local pharmacy and use a machine to give you an accurate reading. A blood pressure level 140/90 is considered high. Those with blood pressure levels between 120/80 and 139/89 are at risk of developing high blood pressure.
Dangers of High Blood Pressure
Hypertension is not the only indicator of stroke and heart disease, although your risk for both increases with a diagnosis. Blood pressure also affects many other parts of your body including your eyes, kidneys, and arteries. High blood pressure can cause blood vessels in the eyes to burst which leads to blurry or impaired vision. Kidney failure can be a result of high blood pressure as the blood vessels in the kidneys thicken, causing waste build-up in the blood. High blood pressure is also linked to hardened arteries that strain the kidneys, heart, and brain.
Avoiding High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is completely avoidable as long as you are willing to make some lifestyle changes. The best ways to take care of your heart and prevent hypertension is to eat healthily, stay active, and cut out smoking. Eating healthy is one of the more difficult changes you are asked to make. A good rule of thumb is to fill half of your plate with fresh fruits and vegetables at each meal. Replace red meat with fish and poultry, and white flour products with whole grain and whole wheat. Limit the amount of sugar and sodium you consume, including beverages. Drinking alcoholic beverages in moderation will go a long way in keeping your heart healthy! Staying active will not only keep your heart strong, but it will help you manage your weight more easily.
Are You at Risk?
Those who are overweight and obese are at risk for hypertension and heart disease. This is one of the reasons it’s crucial for you to eat right and stay active. Managing your weight may also be a direct influence on your blood pressure. Your risk for high blood pressure also increases with age. Men between the ages of 45-64 are at risk as well as women over the age of 65. African-Americans have the highest risk compared to other ethnic groups. They are more likely to be diagnosed at an earlier age and with a more severe potential for heart disease and kidney failure. You may also be at risk if you have a family history of high blood pressure or heart disease. If you find yourself in one of these groups, it’s imperative that you are regularly screened for high blood pressure.
If you would like to make an appointment at The Woman’s Clinic or speak to a physician about your history and risk for high blood pressure, contact us today. The phenomenon of high blood pressure is completely avoidable if you are willing to take action before a diagnosis. As we recognize High Blood Pressure Awareness Month, determine what lifestyle changes you can make in order to have a long, healthy future.