December 2013 > Preventing & Managing High Blood Pressure
Tips for Preventing & Managing High Blood Pressure
Whether you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure (HBP), also known as hypertension, or you are concerned because you have some of the risk factors for the disease, understand this: while there is no cure, there is good news - high blood pressure is manageable!
Adopting a healthy lifestyle is critical for the prevention of HBP and also an indispensable part of managing it. By adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle, you can:
- Reduce high blood pressure;
- Prevent or delay the development of HBP;
- Enhance the effectiveness of blood pressure medications; and,
- Lower your risk of heart attack, heart disease, stroke and kidney disease.
There are several simple lifestyle choices that can help to control blood pressure. These key steps are recommended for anyone concerned about managing their blood pressure:
- Eat a healthy diet, which may include reducing salt;
- Enjoy regular physical activity;
- Maintain a healthy weight;
- Manage stress;
- Avoid tobacco smoke;
- If you drink, limit alcohol; and,
- Understand hot tub safety.
To take it up a notch and live at your healthiest potential, you can think of the following recommended changes as a "lifestyle prescription" and make every effort to comply with them. Following these steps helps ensure you are doing your part in managing your HBP risks:
- Be informed.
Of all people with high blood pressure, over 20 percent are unaware of their condition. This symptomless disease could leave them with substantial health consequences. Are you one of them? If you don't know, find out. Take advantage of the new Living Well blood pressure stations at each UT institution or see a healthcare professional to be tested.
Click here to watch a brief video from the American Heart Association and learn more about what blood pressure numbers mean.
- Do your part to reach your treatment goals.
Consider these statistics regarding those with known HBP:
- 69.1 percent are under current treatment;
- 30.9 percent are not currently under treatment, even though they know their blood pressure is high.
There is no healthy level of high blood pressure. Don't take life-or-death chances with this disease. Instead, take responsibility! Work with your healthcare professional to determine your treatment goals and map out your best action plan for HBP prevention and management.
- Change your life and reduce your risks.
Even if your blood pressure is normal (less than 120 mm Hg systolic AND less than 80 mm Hg diastolic) and your goal is prevention only, the lifestyle modifications provide a prescription for healthy living.
If your resting blood pressure falls in the pre-hypertension range (systolic - top- number between 120 and 139 mm Hg OR diastolic - bottom - number between 80 and 89 mm Hg), your doctor will recommend lifestyle modifications.
- Lifestyle modifications are essential.
These changes may reduce your blood pressure without the use of prescription medications.
- Take medication if it is prescribed for you.
If your blood pressure is 140/90 or higher, your doctor will likely prescribe medication in addition to lifestyle modifications. Follow your healthcare professional's recommendations carefully, even if it means taking medication every day for the rest of your life. High blood pressure is a lifelong disease, and by partnering with your healthcare team, you can successfully reach your treatment goals and enjoy the benefits of better health.
Once your treatment program becomes routine, maintaining lower blood pressure becomes easier. Remind yourself that by managing your blood pressure, you are lowering your risk of heart attack, heart failure, stroke, peripheral artery disease and kidney disease. Death rates from these diseases have decreased significantly, thanks in part to earlier and better treatment of HBP.
Managing blood pressure is a lifelong commitment; make a pledge to do so starting today for yourself and for those you love. Listen to your doctor, review sound medical information from reputable sources, and act on the information to live a heart-healthier life.
Source: Content adapted from the American Heart Association.
UT System's "Living Well: Make it a Priority" Worksite Health & Wellness program provides a wealth of resources dedicated to your better health. Find additional helpful information at: www.livingwell.utsystem.edu.