High blood pressure. It is a term we hear all too often when it comes to heart health. Although the subject of high blood pressure is often discussed with heart health, it’s easy to forget the real consequential effects it can have on one’s health. Over forty-five percent of citizens in the United States are struggling with high blood pressure, otherwise known as hypertension. If left unchecked, it can put your heart at risk for cardiac arrest or other forms of coronary disease.
In this post, we aim to provide you with a better understanding of the issue and share tips on what measures you can take to keep it under control.
What is High Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing on your arterial walls as it moves through your body. It is measured with two different numbers—systolic and diastolic. Systolic represents the pressure against your arteries when your heart actively pumps out blood. Diastolic represents the pressure that occurs when your heart relaxes between beats.
A normal blood pressure reading should be below 120/80 mmHg (millimeters of mercury). Anything above 130/80 is categorized as hypertension.
Causes of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can be caused by a variety of factors such as heredity, chronic conditions, high sodium diets, a sedentary lifestyle, and obesity. Some of the risk factors that could increase your chance of developing high blood pressure are modifiable, meaning you can proactively change them; other risk factors are unmodifiable and out of your control.
You have the power to modify certain risk factors such as a diet high in sodium, eating unhealthy processed foods, a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, excessive alcohol consumption, and smoking. To combat these risk factors effectively, you must adopt more nutritious habits and a healthier lifestyle.
Regrettably, certain risk factors of hypertension such as age (usually affects adults over 40), gender (men are more prone to it than women), and family history cannot be modified. However, these unmodifiable risks can still be treated through prescribed medications that help manage high blood pressure levels.
Symptoms of High Blood Pressure
In some situations, high blood pressure can remain undetected; however, certain warning signs may suggest your hypertension is at an emergency level. These include severe headaches, breathing difficulties, exhaustion or confusion, nosebleeds, and chest pain—in which case you should seek medical help right away. Other symptoms of high BP could be vision changes as well as ringing in the ears and irregular heartbeats.
If high blood pressure is left untreated, it can have serious long-term impacts on your cardiovascular health such as stroke, heart attack, aneurysm, and kidney damage.
Effective Prevention Methods
By recognizing your risk factors and making the necessary lifestyle changes, you can effectively keep high blood pressure levels in check. Eating nutritious foods with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins alongside exercising daily for at least 30 minutes will lead to a drastic decrease in high blood pressure.
Limiting alcohol consumption, quitting smoking, and reducing stress are all key to preventing hypertension. If you have any other underlying medical conditions such as diabetes or high cholesterol, it is essential to follow your doctor’s advice on how to manage them to help keep high Blood Pressure levels in check.