High Blood Pressure Risks are Real – 7 Tips to Prevent High Blood Pressure
Dr. Greg Goblirsch, Vibrant Health Family Clinics
The Healthcare Providers at Vibrant Health are committed to helping their patients prevent and treat chronic disease. High blood pressure (or hypertension) is very common– over 45% of Americans have high blood pressure. It is the most important risk for developing heart disease. Facts like these are why it is important to find out if you have high blood pressure and to have your blood pressure under control.
What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure is a measurement of how forceful your blood is pressing against the walls of the arteries. Arteries are muscular tubes within the circulatory system. Blood pressure does not stay the same. Blood pressure rises when you are active, excited, or nervous; and it lowers during sleep and relaxation. If the numbers measuring your blood pressure stay above normal most of the time, you are at risk for health problems. High blood pressure (hypertension) is a long-term (chronic) condition in which blood pressure is elevated.
A blood pressure reading is recorded as two numbers, such as 120 over 80 (or 120/80). The first, higher number is called the systolic pressure. It is a measure of the pressure in your arteries as the heart beats. The second, lower number is called the diastolic pressure. It is a measure of the pressure in your arteries as the heart relaxes between beats.
How is high blood pressure diagnosed?
High blood pressure is diagnosed with a blood pressure monitor. This is a common test for all doctor visits. A nurse will place a band (cuff) around your arm. The band is attached to a small pump and a meter. He or she will squeeze the pump. It will feel tight around your arm. Then he or she will stop and watch the meter. This provides the nurse with 2 numbers that make up your blood pressure. The top number is your systolic reading (the peak blood pressure when your heart is squeezing blood out). The bottom number is your diastolic reading (the pressure when your heart is filling with blood). You may also hear the doctor or nurse say a blood pressure is “120 over 80.”
- Normal blood pressure is less than 120 on top and less than 80 on the bottom.
- Elevated blood pressure levels are 120-129 on top and less than 80 on the bottom.
- High blood pressure, stage 1 is 130-139 on top and 80-89 on the bottom.
- High blood pressure, stage 2 is 140 or higher on top and 90 and over on the bottom.
Why should I be concerned about my blood pressure?
- High blood pressure (hypertension) is a leading cause of heart disease and stroke in the United States.
- High blood pressure causes or contributes to nearly 1,000 deaths per day.
- When your blood pressure is high you are 4 times more likely to die from a stroke and 3 times more likely to die from heart disease.
- High blood pressure can cause kidney damage and lead to kidney failure.
- High blood pressure can lead to damage to the blood vessels behind the eye leading to vision loss.
- High blood pressure increases the chances of developing dementia or memory problems as you age.
What can I do to prevent high blood pressure?
If your high blood pressure is caused by lifestyle factors, you can take steps to reduce your risk:
- Lose weight (Vibrant Health has a Registered Dietitian who can provide insight and support).
- Stop smoking.
- Eat properly.
- Lower your salt intake.
- Reduce your alcohol consumption.
- Learn relaxation methods (such as meditation or yoga).
If your high blood pressure is caused by disease or the medicine you take, talk to your doctor. He or she may be able to prescribe a different medicine. Additionally, treating your disease (such as controlling your diabetes) can help reduce your high blood pressure.
Sometimes your blood pressure may be high when you visit your doctor. When this happens, our staff will recheck it before you leave. If it is still high, a recheck in a week or so is recommended. We offer blood pressure checks free of charge during regular clinic hours. Please remember that you are in charge of your health, but we are here to help.