High blood pressure is an insidious condition that quietly does internal damage to your body. Without efforts to lower it, high blood pressure can lead to serious conditions and even death.
At South Plains Rural Health Services, we measure your blood pressure at every appointment. If it’s considered high or borderline high, we recommend you take measures to decrease it. This includes medical interventions, like prescription medication, and lifestyle changes.
Here’s why you should pay attention to your blood pressure numbers and what you can do to lower them.
What does it mean if I have “high blood pressure?”
Your blood pressure is a reading of the force that your blood puts against the blood vessel walls. If this number is too high, it forces your heart to work extra hard and over time, puts you at risk of serious health problems.
The risk of developing high blood pressure increases with age. If you’re overweight, a smoker, drink alcohol excessively, consume a high-sodium diet, or are subject to ongoing stress, you’re also at greater risk. A family history of high blood pressure contributes to your risk.
What are the health impacts of high blood pressure?
Medical and lifestyle interventions can reduce high blood pressure levels. Without management, high blood pressure can lead to:
- Heart attack or stroke
- Heart failure
- Vision loss
- Kidney disease
- Sexual dysfunction
- Peripheral artery disease
Here at South Plains Rural Health Services, we want to help you get in control of your blood pressure, so you can live a long, healthy life.
What are the medical interventions for high blood pressure?
It’s important to understand that medical interventions are not a cure. You should resolve to make lifestyle changes, too, as these are some of the best ways to get blood pressure levels under control.
Prescription medications can help you lower your blood pressure numbers. We’ll also regularly monitor your levels to make sure your condition isn’t worsening or causing complications that require further treatment. If it’s a hassle to get to one of our locations, you can monitor your levels at home and report to us if you see a concerning change in your numbers.
What lifestyle changes help reduce high blood pressure?
In many ways, you are in control of your blood pressure levels. Lifestyle changes are some of the most powerful ways to get to a healthier blood pressure.
Lose extra weight
If you’re overweight or obese, you’re more likely to have high blood pressure and sleep apnea, which also contributes to high blood pressure.
Also, keep track of the size of your waistline. Middle fat is a special risk factor. Men with a waist measurement greater than 40 inches and women with one greater than 35 inches are also at increased risk of high blood pressure, regardless of their total weight.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. This provides a plethora of health benefits, including lower blood pressure.
This exercise doesn’t have to be overwhelmingly difficult. A swim, game of tennis, brisk walk, or gardening all contribute to your weekly activity levels.
Choose healthy foods
A diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products that is also low in saturated fat, processed foods, and sodium can improve your blood pressure levels. We also recommend eating more potassium, which lessens the effects of sodium on blood pressure.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are great sources of this mineral.
Cut back on alcohol and quit smoking
Moderate alcohol intake is just fine. That’s defined as one 12-ounce beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor daily for women, or two for men.
Drinking much more than this regularly can increase your blood pressure levels and decrease the effectiveness of any blood pressure lowering medications.
Smoking raises your blood pressure. We can help you quit. Ask us how.
Chronic stress can raise your blood pressure levels. It can make you indulge in unhealthy habits, like drinking and unhealthy meals. Stress can also raise your body’s inflammation, contributing to higher blood pressure.
Delegate at work, avoid stressful situations (like traffic or certain people), and choose relaxing activities daily.
We here at South Plains Rural Health Services are ready to help you implement these lifestyle changes to lower your blood pressure. We also offer any medical management needed. Call the nearest location today, or use the online tool to set up an appointment for your annual visit.