A Day of Action against High Blood Pressure

New Picture2Today is a Day of Action for high blood pressure awareness – one of many problematic heart conditions. It’s a condition where your body pumps blood too hard throughout the body. People can have high blood pressure for many different reasons, which makes treatment and prevention unique for everyone. It’s important to visit a doctor to see if you have high blood pressure, and to map out a treatment plan that’s tailor-made to have the best results.

What causes high blood pressure?

Personal lifestyle choices are critical to developing high blood pressure. Some of the most common are:

  • Diets high in salt and/or fats
  • Lack of exercise
  • Smoking
  • Too much stress
  • Too much alcohol

Your genetics and environment can also have an impact. African Americans, in particular, tend to develop high blood pressure earlier in life and may find it harder to control. African Americans also have higher rates of early death from high blood pressure-related problems.

How do I know if I have high blood pressure?

You can check your blood pressure yourself, at home. There is a range of cost-effective options to track your numbers and progress, from electronic to manual devices.

A doctor or a pharmacist can also do the test. Many doctors take your blood pressure during routine checkups, anyways, so it’s a convenient way to knock out an important part of your heart health while also screening for other potential issues. Also, many pharmacists have free machines – that little machine where you stick your arm in the slot and gives a gentle squeeze.

Be sure to ask what a healthy reading is for your height, weight, and age!

How do I lower high blood pressure?

First, it’s important to know what’s causing your high blood pressure. If it’s diet, than cutting back on salt and fats is the best way. Salt likes to hide in a lot of different foods, like pizza, lunch meats, and canned soups. Make sure to read the label on the back before you chow down on that canned chili… some brands have 100% of your daily sodium intake in a single can!

While exercise may seem daunting, just 30 minutes a day can make a tremendous difference. For many, the hardest part is simply putting on your shoes and starting – if so, make THAT the goal. It’s harder to say “I’m not going to walk for 30 minutes” if you already have your shoes on.

Too much alcohol and smoking are sometimes major hurdles for people, but they’re critically important to limit/quit to lead a healthy lifestyle. These are two areas that may need a doctor’s assistance, so make sure you communicate with your healthcare provider to learn the best treatment options.

For more information, check out the Measure Up, Pressure Down resource center, by the American Medical Group Foundation.

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