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High Blood Pressure Awareness Month

blood pressure check

You check your email or social media accounts daily, but have you checked your blood pressure? One in every three, or approximately 86 million, Americans have high blood pressure. Many people have no idea they have high blood pressure because there are often no warning signs or symptoms. By checking your pressure regularly, you are taking the first step in protecting yourself. Without detection, high blood pressure can potentially lead to health problems like heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, and vision loss. By diagnosing any health problems early, you and your primary care provider can take steps to control your blood pressure. 

High blood pressure, or hypertension, can be prevented by making healthy choices and managing any other health conditions you may have. 

  • Eating a healthy diet by enjoying a variety of foods rich in potassium, fiber, and protein while lower in sodium or saturated fat can help keep your blood pressure low while also protecting you against heart disease and stroke. 

  • Being overweight or obese increases your risk for high blood pressure. BMI, or body mass index, is one way to determine a healthy weight range, but measurements can also be used to assess body fat. Talk to your primary care provider about ways you can reach a healthy weight.

  • Being physically active not only can help keep you at a healthy weight, but it can also lower your blood pressure. Physical activity guidelines for adults recommend you get at least two hours and 30 minutes, or 30 minutes a day five days a week, of moderate-intensity exercise. Activities like brisk walking or bicycling are a couple of examples.

  • Smoking also raises your blood pressure and puts you at a higher risk for heart attack and stroke. If you currently smoke, speak with your primary care provider about ways to help you quit. 

  • Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends no more than two alcoholic drinks per day for men and no more than one for women. 

  • Getting enough sleep is essential to your overall health and keeping your heart and blood vessels healthy. Not getting enough sleep has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research recommends that adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night for the best health. 

If you have high blood pressure, you can take steps to control it and lower your risk for heart disease and stroke. 

  • About 6 out of 10 people with diabetes also suffer from blood pressure. Your primary care provider may recommend you are tested for diabetes if you have symptoms. 

  • Your primary care provider may also prescribe medications to treat high blood pressure or other health conditions. It is important to take those medications as prescribed and ask questions if you do not understand something. Never stop taking your medicine without talking to your doctor or pharmacist first. 

If you haven’t had your blood pressure checked in a while or are concerned about your numbers, talk to your healthcare provider. They can tell you how often you should have your blood pressure checked, and if you do have high blood pressure, they can help you make a plan to manage it.