High blood pressure, often referred to as the “silent killer,” does not have any symptoms, but can cause serious damage to arteries, leading to heart disease and stroke. Nearly one in three adults in the United States has high blood pressure and many people remain unaware of this condition because there are no symptoms.
A routine doctor’s appointment often involves a health professional checking your blood pressure. The results of this simple test may identify a condition that, when managed, could help reduce your chances for stroke or heart attack.
The national high blood pressure campaign, Measure Up/Pressure Down®, encourages adults to get in control by making simple lifestyle changes, including:
1. Know your numbers – Understanding what blood pressure is, and what your numbers are, is an important first step. Work with your health care provider to determine your individual blood pressure goals and treatment plan if your numbers are too high.
2. Eat right – A diet with excessive sodium (salt) can lead to higher blood pressure. Check food labels before you buy and choose foods with less than 400 mgs of sodium per serving.
3. Stay active – By being active at least 30 minutes a day at least 5 times a week, you can help reduce your blood pressure.
4. Reduce stress – A stressful situation can increase blood pressure for a short period of time. Try to reduce the occurrence of these situations and look for healthy ways - like meditation or walking - to help you deal with stress.
5. Set alcohol limits and eliminate tobacco – Over time, consuming a high amount of alcohol can damage the heart. Tobacco use and secondhand smoke can immediately raise blood pressure levels and cause damage to the lining of arteries. If you’re interested in quitting tobacco, call the Maine Tobacco HelpLine 1-800-207-1230.
6. Take medication – Your doctor may recommend taking a blood pressure medication to keep levels steady. Be sure to follow the directions provided for taking the medications to ensure you’re getting the most benefit from them.
Through Measure Up/Pressure Down®, you are encouraged to measure, monitor and maintain your blood pressure level to stay in control of this health condition. If you don’t know your blood pressure and want more information to determine if you might be at risk for high blood pressure, visit MaineHeartHealth.org.