Health Hub: Managing Hypertension
February is American Heart Month! Find out more about controlling your blood pressure.
February is American Heart Month, and what better time to raise awareness about high blood pressure – a serious health issue that impacts approximately one out of every three American adults? While most people are familiar with the terms “high blood pressure” and “hypertension,” there is far less understanding of what exactly these refer to and why you need to pay attention to this key medical indicator. The truth is that one of the best things you can do to safeguard your heart health – and your whole health – is to take control of your blood pressure.
HEALTH IMPACTS OF HYPERTENSION
Your blood pressure is a measure of how hard your blood is pushing against the walls of your blood vessels. When your blood pressure is higher than it should be, your heart is working extra hard to send blood out to parts of the body. This can eventually lead to serious heart conditions including atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), stroke and even heart failure. It can also cause kidney disease or failure.
KNOW YOUR NUMBERS
Your physician will let you know where your blood pressure falls within these five ranges:
• Normal: below 120/80
• Elevated: 120–129/less than 80
• Stage 1 high blood pressure: 130–139/80–89
• Stage 2 high blood pressure: 140 and above/90 and above
• Hypertension crisis: higher than 180/higher than 120
MANAGING YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE
If you have elevated or high blood pressure, it’s important to take steps to better manage your heart health. Talk to your provider about a plan that is right for you, which may include the following:
• Losing weight
• Exercising regularly
• Eating a low-cholesterol, low-fat diet
• Reducing sodium intake
• Smoking cessation
• Limiting alcohol consumption
• Reducing stress
• Regular blood pressure monitoring
Linus Wodi, MD, is board certified in cardiovascular medicine, adult echocardiography, clinical hypertension, nuclear cardiology and vascular imaging interpretation. He specializes in treating patients with heart failure and cardiovascular disease at AdventHealth Medical Group in Apopka and Winter Garden.