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February is Heart Disease Awareness Month. One of the biggest problems that can damage your heart is Hypertension. Do you know what your blood pressure reading is? It’s one of most important tests you have every time you go to the doctor’s office.
High blood pressure is called hypertension. Even though your blood pressure rises and falls throughout the day, having it stay too high can damage your heart. When you have chronic hypertension you put your body at risk for heart disease and stroke.
If your blood pressure is 130/80 that is hypertension. If it is 140/90 it is Stage 2 hypertension. Mine rarely goes over 120/80, but my husbands is much higher than mine. Nearly half of Americans have hypertension and nearly half a million deaths will count hypertension as a contributing cause (in 2018).
The best way to prevent hypertension is to practice healthy living habits.
- Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits, veggies, and fiber. The DASH Diet is a good one, because it helps you control your sodium intake.
- Keep a healthy weight. Gaining too much weight can increase your hypertension risks. This is true for me. My blood pressure has increased a great deal since I gained weight.
- Exercise is important to help lower or manage your blood pressure, as well as lose weight.
- Don’t smoke.
- Limit your alcohol.
- Get enough sleep.
Because you may not know or feel your high blood pressure, you need to manage it.
- Take your blood pressure often. You can do it at home with a kit or see the nurse.
- Take your blood pressure medication, if you have been given it. Also, never stop taking it unless your doctor instructs you to do so. All other medications should be taken regularly, too.
- If you need to make changes in your lifestyle habits, do that to help manage high blood pressure.
- Manage Diabetes. Work with your doctor to control blood sugar.
- Talk with your doctors to discuss the plan to manage your hypertension.
If your medical team decides that you need medicine for your hypertension, it’s important to take the medicines. If you have any questions, be sure to talk to your doctor or pharmacist. There are usually low risks of side effects, but they can sometimes cause problems, such as: dizziness, headaches, swelling in the legs or feet, or stomach problems.
Here are four different ways that hypertension medicines can work:
- Causing water to leave the body. This can bring water and salt levels to a normal level.
- Relaxing the blood vessels.
- Causing your heart to beat with less force.
- Blocking nerve activity that can restrict your blood vessels.
I have heart disease. The disease I have is called Left Branch Bundle Block. This is a heart rhythm problem. I take a drug called Metoprolol to manage this condition. This is a Beta Blocker that is sometimes also used for hypertension.
I hope that you’ll pay attention to your heart. Having a healthy heart should be a top health concern and priority, especially as we age. Take care of it!
@2021, copyright Lisa Ehrman
Resources: CDC website
Disclaimer: I’m not a medical expert. This post contains only my opinions and is not meant to be taken as medical advice. If you have a medical concern, please consult your personal physician.