Almost half of American adults have high blood pressure — but less than a quarter of those people are managing their high blood pressure successfully. That’s the sobering news from the CDC, which also found that slightly more than half of those with hypertension aren’t taking any steps to have it treated.
High blood pressure (or hypertension) puts you at a much greater risk of developing serious and even life-threatening medical problems, including heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and dementia. Plus, hypertension becomes more common as you age, which makes controlling blood pressure a priority at any age.
At TLC Medical Group, Anthony B. Lewis, MD, FACC, and his team help patients take meaningful steps to manage their blood pressure, so they can avoid complications and enjoy better health. Here’s what you can do to get your high blood pressure under control.
Why hypertension happens
Blood pressure is the force blood exerts on the walls of your blood vessels. It’s measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). For most people, normal blood pressure is under 130/80mmHg, but Dr. Lewis can determine your specific blood pressure target.
High blood pressure happens when that force increases beyond healthy levels, usually as a result of sticky plaque buildup on the walls of your arteries. Hypertension risk also increases with age as wear and tear inside the vessels causes tiny areas of damage, making it easier for those plaques to “stick.”
Your blood pressure can be influenced — a lot — by your diet and your lifestyle. That’s good news, because it means there are lots of things you can do to help control your blood pressure and play a proactive role in your treatment.
Managing hypertension: What you can do
Managing hypertension effectively almost always begins with lifestyle changes. That includes things like:
- Quitting smoking
- Losing excess weight
- Eating foods high in fiber
- Avoiding unhealthy fats
- Being more physically active
- Reducing the amount of sodium (salt) in your diet
- Limiting alcohol intake to 1-2 drinks per day
- Seeing your doctor regularly
You might also consider buying a blood pressure cuff so you can monitor your blood pressure at home, recording your numbers to share with Dr. Lewis.
Healthy lifestyle changes are extremely important. But sometimes, they’re still not enough to keep blood pressure under control. In that case, Dr. Lewis prescribes medication to lower your blood pressure, manage your cholesterol, or reduce the strain on your heart. Your treatment will be based on your unique needs, changing over time as those needs change.
“But I don’t have any symptoms”
Some people think they don’t have high blood pressure because they don’t have any symptoms. But guess what? Hypertension almost never causes any noticeable symptoms, and when symptoms (like sweating or palpitations) do happen, it’s often because your blood pressure is already at a dangerous level.
In fact, the lack of noticeable symptoms has earned hypertension a scary nickname: the silent killer. Having regular physical exams and blood pressure screenings is the only way to know if you have high blood pressure and to make sure your efforts to manage it are successful.
Get your blood pressure under control
Bottom line: Hypertension is a chronic medical condition that requires ongoing management to prevent serious problems. If you have high blood pressure or if you need to have your blood pressure checked, call the office in Port St. Lucie, Florida, or book an appointment online and learn how we can help.