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Healthy Blood Pressure

Note: This article is over 60 days old, and may contain information that is out of date, or has been superseded by newer information.

Know your numbers for the New Year!

High blood pressure is the leading cause of heart attack, stroke, heart failure and kidney failure. Lowering high blood pressure helps keep your arteries healthy and is the single best thing you can do for your health. The American Heart Association recommends a blood pressure of less than 120/80 for non-diabetic adults and less than 130/80 for diabetics.

Simple steps to achieve a healthier blood pressure:

  • Monitor your pressure. Measuring your blood pressure is quick and painless. Sit quietly for a few minutes before taking the reading, AND support your arm at the level of your heart during monitoring.
  • Take your blood pressure medication as prescribed. If you cannot afford your medications or if you do not like the side effects of the medications, tell your doctor. Many drugs used to treat high blood pressure are available in generic formulas sold at reduced co-pays.
  • Make these healthy lifestyle changes:
  • Achieve a normal body weight.
  • Participate in some form of physical activity each day (Ask your doctor if you are healthy enough to exercise).
  • Reduce your salt intake to 1500 milligrams a day. Watch out for fast foods, processed and prepackaged foods which are often high in salt.
  • If you smoke- STOP. Visit the Wellness Programs page to find out how we can help.

Making these small changes to achieve a normal blood pressure will help prevent further complications caused by this silent condition. For more information on high blood pressure contact CHP Health Coaching at 850-383-3400.

Hypertension: The Thief in the Night

Note: This article is over 60 days old, and may contain information that is out of date, or has been superseded by newer information.

Hypertension is like a thief who comes quietly in the night to steal your health.

It often has no symptoms and is easy to ignore. With a minimum of effort, you can detect and treat it before it becomes harmful. Think of blood pressure measurement as an early warning system.

According to the American Heart Association, Hypertension (aka high blood pressure) means your body’s blood is being pumped against too much pressure. This can be especially hard on the pump (your heart) and the small, delicate blood vessels in your brain, kidneys, and eyes. Left untreated, hypertension can lead to conditions such as a weakened heart, heart attack, kidney disease, need for dialysis, stroke, and blindness.

A normal adult blood pressure is less than 120 over 80. Blood pressure measures the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart alternately pumps (top number) and rests (bottom number) as it beats along. It should be measured in all adults at least once each year.

Causes and contributing factors of hypertension can include family history and other health conditions such as: being overweight, smoking, lack of exercise, drinking too much alcohol, stress, too much salt, and not eating enough vegetables and fruits.

Fortunately, there is treatment! For most people, treatment includes a combination of lifestyle factors and medications.

Lifestyle factors can include the right eating plan (such as the Dash diet and reducing salt), losing weight, quitting smoking, stress reduction, exercise, and limiting alcohol. Ask your doctor before starting any diet or exercise regimen.

Medications will need a doctor’s prescription. Work with your doctor to find the medication that is right for you. Stick with the medication, even though high blood pressure may cause no symptoms. A 2009 Italian study found that taking blood pressure medications as prescribed (called "adherence") is associated with a 38% decrease in risk for cardiovascular events, such as strokes and heart disease.

Another recent study by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists showed that the more prescriptions a person has, the less likely he or she is to take the medications properly. Discuss your situation with your doctor or pharmacist, especially if you are on multiple medications. Some prescriptions combine two or more medications in the same pill, reducing pill numbers and co-pays.

Don’t wait on symptoms to start thinking about your health. Have your blood pressure measured and pay attention to the result. Don’t let this silent thief into your good health.