February is American Heart Month, and there is no better time to think about being heart-healthy. If you have high blood pressure, this is the time to be sure you are doing everything you can to keep it under control. Known as the “silent killer,” high blood pressure – or hypertension – usually has no symptoms, so all adults should have their blood pressure checked regularly.
According to the American Heart Association, more than 78 million American adults have hypertension. The term “blood pressure” describes the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps blood. When this pressure rises and stays high, over time it can damage the body in many ways, and can lead to coronary artery disease, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure and other health problems.
Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers. Systolic pressure – the top number – measures the pressure in the heart when your heart muscle contracts. Diastolic pressure – the bottom number – measures the pressure when the heart muscle is resting between beats and filling with blood. A blood pressure reading of 120/80 or less is considered normal. When either number exceeds this reading, a person is considered to have prehypertension (up to 139/89), Hypertension stage 1 (up to 159/99), and Hypertension stage 2 (160/100 or higher).
High blood pressure can usually be controlled with medication, diet, exercise and consistent monitoring by your health care professional. There are some risk factors for high blood pressure that are uncontrollable, such as gender, race and family history. Other factors, however, can be controlled, such as obesity, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, sodium intake, high cholesterol, diabetes, stress and alcohol consumption.
Follow these seven tips to help you keep your blood pressure under control:
1. Maintain a normal body weight. If you are overweight, start small and shed some of the pounds. Decreasing your body weight decreases the load on your heart.
2. Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products. Reduce your intake of saturated and total fat.
3. Reduce your sodium intake to no more than 2.4 grams per day.
4. Get in at least 30 minutes of exercise with a goal of five days a week.
5. Drink alcohol in moderation. This is considered no more than two drinks a day for men, and one for women.
6. If you smoke, quit.
7. Have your blood pressure checked at least annually. Since high blood pressure has no symptoms, the only way to know if you have it is to have your blood pressure checked.
During American Heart Month, pledge to take control of your blood pressure and keep your heart healthy!
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68 Hauppauge Rd, Commack, NY 11725