Worldwide, more than a billion people have high blood pressure, and almost half of them don’t know it. Hypertension, the medical name for high blood pressure, is one of the major causes of early death worldwide.
The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to get it checked. The experts at Heart & Vascular Institute discuss the risks of high blood pressure with all our patients. We want to make sure you understand your personal risk and what risks are modifiable.
What’s high blood pressure, anyway?
The guidelines for what qualifies as high blood pressure recently changed. Your blood pressure reading consists of two numbers: systolic (top number) and diastolic (bottom).
A normal or healthy blood pressure is less than 120 over less than 80. A reading of 120-129 over less than 80 is considered elevated.
High blood pressure has two stages. Stage 1 is a reading of 130-139 over 80-89. Stage 2 is 140 or higher over 90 or higher. Anything higher is considered a hypertensive crisis and requires immediate medical care.
Some risk factors are things you can’t change. For example, your age, sex, and race can all increase your risk of high blood pressure. The older you are, the greater your risk, for example.
Men have a greater risk until the age of 64. Women are more likely than men, though, to have high blood pressure after the age of 65. Black people are more likely to have hypertension than people of any other race or ethnic background.
Some things that raise your risk can be adjusted or modified. Those are called modifiable risk factors. If you have risk factors you can’t control, addressing the ones you can is critical.
Eating a well-balanced and nutritious diet is good for your health in all sorts of ways, including keeping your blood pressure in a normal range. Avoid sodium especially if you want to limit the likelihood of developing hypertension.
Aim for a varied diet rich in vegetables, fruits, lean protein, and healthy fats.
2. Regular physical activity
The American Heart Association recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week or at least 75 minutes of intense physical activity — or a combination of the two. Simply adding a 30-minute walk after dinner could help keep your blood vessels healthy!
3. Your weight
People who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of hypertension than people who maintain a healthy weight. Happily, by making changes to your diet and adding exercise to your daily routine, you may also lose some extra pounds.
4. Alcohol and tobacco use
You already know that smoking, or any tobacco use, is bad for your health. It’s one of the main risk factors for high blood pressure. If you’re struggling to quit, talk with your doctor.
Heavy alcohol consumption is also associated with a greater risk of hypertension. If you drink, limit yourself to one drink per day if you’re a woman or two drinks if you’re a man.
5. Chronic conditions
Some chronic medical conditions, such as kidney disease, aren’t modifiable. However, you can attend your doctors’ appointments, take medications appropriately, and follow any guidelines to control the disease.
Similarly, treating sleep apnea and diabetes as directed can help modify your risk of developing high blood pressure.
The best way to find out your personal risk is to talk to your doctor about high blood pressure.
Heart & Vascular Institute has four convenient locations, in Dearborn, Detroit, Southfield, and Wayne, Michigan. Schedule an appointment by phone or online today with the office nearest you to find out your blood pressure and how to keep it in a healthy range.