February is finally here, and you know what that means! It’s almost time for that special once-a-year occasion where we get to celebrate our loved one with chocolates, giant Reese hearts, edible arrangements, and sweet, sappy cards. But, it’s also a time to celebrate your heart – you know, that important organ that keeps you living, breathing, and well…loving.
According to the American Heart Association, Heart disease is the #1 leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, killing over 647,000 U.S. adults each year – and High Blood Pressure (HBP), also known as Hypertension, is the #1 risk factor that leads to heart disease and stroke.
Here are 5 things to know about hypertension and ways you can reduce your risk to keep a healthy, happy heart.
What is Hypertension?
High blood pressure (hypertension) is when your bp is higher than normal (120/80). More than 75 million Americans have Hypertension – that’s 1 in every 3 adults! Now, it’s normal for your blood pressure to fluctuate throughout the day, however, it’s important to keep a close eye on it to see if it’s consistently elevated. The longer your blood pressure levels remain high, the more risk you’re at for developing serious health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, and heart attacks.
Signs & Symptoms of High Blood Pressure:
Sadly, there are usually no obvious signs or symptoms of high blood pressure. In most cases, people who live with Hypertension are unaware they even have it until they see their provider. So, it’s important to monitor your bp levels on a routine basis to determine whether you need to start making some healthy lifestyle changes or not.
Dangers of Uncontrolled High Blood Pressure:
High blood pressure can affect your health in many ways, if not properly controlled. Think of it this way – the higher your bp levels are, the harder your heart is working to pump blood out to the rest of your body. If left uncontrolled, this can lead to hardening of the arteries, which decreases the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart. Decreased blood flow to the heart and unmonitored HBP can also cause:
◌ Chest pain, (also known as angina)
◌ Heart attack
◌ Kidney disease
◌ Heart failure
◌ Blood clots, which can lead to a stroke
How to Check Your Blood Pressure:
Accurately measuring your blood pressure is fast and easy. A bp check can be performed by any of our providers at one of our 12 locations, at a pharmacy that has a digital blood pressure machine, or even at home with a bp monitor that you can use yourself. You want to aim to keep your blood pressure levels at (or below) the normal range of 120/80.
Refer to the chart below for healthy and unhealthy bp ranges.
Ways to Lower Your Risk of High Blood Pressure:
Following a heart-healthy lifestyle is very important in order to prevent serious health issues and reduce the risk of Hypertension. The top things to do:
◌ Quit smoking: it’s also best to avoid secondhand smoke
◌ Eat a healthy diet: schedule an appointment with our Dietitian for a customized meal plan and nutritional guidance
◌ Exercise regularly: it’s recommended that everyone gets at least 150 minutes (2 ½
hours) a week of physical activity that gets your heart pumping
◌ Maintain a healthy weight: use the BMI Calculator to find a healthy weight range for you
◌ Manage underlying health conditions: diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol
levels, and other conditions or diseases
We get that making lifestyle changes can be difficult and even hard to implement, but you don’t have to do it alone!
This Valentine’s Day – show your heart some love by scheduling a visit with your ELFP provider so you can take steps to improve your blood pressure and your overall health. And know, maintaining a healthy heart is loving the ones who care about you most.