It’s estimated that 100 million Americans have high blood pressure, and half of them are unaware of it. Also known as hypertension, elevated blood pressure often causes no symptoms. It can silently damage your body and raise the chances of causing a heart attack or stroke.
What’s more, many Americans who know they have hypertension fail to have their condition properly treated. The health specialists at Arlington Family Practice want you to know it’s important to have your blood pressure checked regularly, and in this blog they provide steps you can take to protect your heart and lower your risk of developing heart disease.
Understanding blood pressure
The average heart beats 70 times a minute, and each time it beats, it pumps out 2-3 ounces of blood. In just one minute, your heart can pump out 5-7 liters of blood.
The force your heart exerts against the walls of your arteries plays a vital role in your health. If the force is too low, your body won’t receive enough oxygenated blood. And when the force is too high, it can damage your blood vessels.
Detrimental effects of sustained high blood pressure
During a regular day, your blood pressure will fluctuate to accommodate the situation. For example, your blood pressure will rise when you stand up or exercise to meet the increased demand for blood.
If your blood pressure remains above normal for a sustained period, you have high blood pressure. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can damage vessels throughout your body, including those that supply blood to your brain, heart, eyes and kidneys. In fact, hypertension is the second leading cause of kidney failure.
What’s normal blood pressure?
A normal blood pressure is 120/80 or below. The top number, systolic pressure, measures the force against your artery walls when your heart beats. Diastolic pressure, the second number, refers to the force exerted against your artery walls between beats.
Previous guidelines set the threshold for high blood pressure at 140/90 or higher. However, recent studies have shown that lower levels of blood pressure can cause damage. Due to these recent studies, the threshold for high blood pressure is now 130/80 and above.
Know your status
The only way to know for sure if you have high blood pressure is to have it checked by a qualified healthcare provider. Physicians typically diagnose hypertension based on two or more readings. The recommendation for treatment will depend on your health status, additional risk factors for heart disease, and your blood pressure readings.
Managing hypertension with lifestyle changes
If your doctor diagnosis you with hypertension, don’t panic. The good news is that lifestyle changes can often bring your blood pressure within normal limits. Furthermore, medications are available when lifestyle changes alone are not enough to keep your blood pressure within a healthy range.
Losing weight if you’re overweight, quitting smoking, avoiding excess alcohol consumption, exercising, and adopting a healthy diet are some of the best ways to get your blood pressure under control.
Additionally, managing diabetes, high cholesterol, and other factors that can lead to heart disease can also help protect your heart.
To get control of your blood pressure, book an appointment online or over the phone with Arlington Family Practice today.