(Family Features) Effectively managing your blood pressure can help reduce your chances of life-threatening medical events, even death.
Gain confidence and learn how to take control of your blood pressure with these tips and resources from the American Heart Association.
The Silent Killer
High blood pressure is often referred to as the “silent killer” because it typically has few, if any, noticeable symptoms but can lead to heart attack, stroke, heart failure and even death. Many people with high blood pressure don’t even know they have it. Some overlooked symptoms can include dizziness, facial flushing and blood spots in the eyes.
Understand Your Readings
The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to regularly take an accurate blood pressure measurement. Understanding your results is key to controlling high blood pressure. Blood pressure numbers of less than 120/80 mm Hg are usually considered within the normal range, yet it is important to talk to a doctor about your healthy range. Even if you fall within a healthy range, it can be beneficial to stick with heart-healthy habits like following a balanced diet and getting regular exercise.
Know Your Risk
While many risk factors for high blood pressure may be related to your age, gender and family history, there are also risk factors you can change to help prevent and manage high blood pressure. People at added risk may be those who engage in lower levels of physical activity, eat a diet high in sodium (particularly from packaged, processed foods), may be overweight or obese, drink excessive amounts of alcohol and may have multiple chronic conditions.
Talk About It
Whether you’re making changes in your own life to combat high blood pressure or helping someone else, positive feelings and confidence are longer-term motivators to making health changes. If you’re talking with friends, loved ones or your doctor, be prepared to ask open-ended questions. Be curious and kind to yourself and others you may be helping.
Watching your weight, especially if you are overweight or obese, can bring health gains; losing as little as 5-10 pounds may help lower your blood pressure. Managing your stress by relaxing for short periods during your workday, at night and on weekends is another productive practice.
If you have diabetes, it’s important to work with a doctor to manage the disease and reduce your blood glucose levels.
If you think you could have sleep apnea, getting screened for and treating the condition can also reduce your risk for developing high blood pressure.
When you have high blood pressure, medication may be an important part of your treatment. Follow the recommendations carefully, even if it means taking medication every day for the rest of your life.
When you’re discussing high blood pressure concerns with your health care provider, also be sure to talk to your doctor about over-the-counter pain relievers that may raise your blood pressure. Talking with your doctor can help you identify over-the-counter pain medications that won’t raise your blood pressure to ensure you’re not creating a blood pressure problem while treating other concerns.
Learn more about monitoring and managing high blood pressure at heart.org/bptools.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (man talking with nurse)