High blood pressure (also referred to as HBP, or hypertension) is when your blood pressure, the force of blood flowing through your blood vessels, is consistently too high. Here are 4 fast facts about blood pressure and how to care for yourself.
1. What is blood pressure?
Our heart circulates blood around our body. This image from the Center for Disease Control shows that as our blood flows through our blood vessels, it puts pressure on them (imagine a hose filling up with water). Blood pressure is a measurement of how much your blood is pushing against your blood vessels.
2. Why does blood pressure matter?
If your pressure is too high, it can damage your blood vessels, causing them to become more weak, stiff, or narrow. This makes it harder for blood to get to organs like your heart and brain, and can lead to things like heart attacks and strokes.
3. How do I know if I have high blood pressure? The tricky thing about high blood pressure is that it usually does not have any symptoms. It’s also common. In fact according to the CDC,tens of millions of adults in the United States have high blood pressure, and many do not have it under control
We measure blood pressure with a blood pressure monitor, which will give you two numbers—a top number (systolic), and a lower number (diastolic). This is usually one of the first things checked during a medical visit.
The American Heart Association is a national voluntary health agency to help reduce disability and death from cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Their chart shows what different measurements can tell you about your blood pressure control.
4. How can I take care of myself?
If you have been told you have high blood pressure or to help prevent hypertension problems, you have options! You can help prevent or control high blood pressure by:
- Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and using low- or reduced-fat dairy products.
- Avoiding foods high in salt, and not adding extra salt to your food
- Increasing your exercise
- Limiting the amount of alcohol you drink
The AHA has a great chart that highlights this advice.
To put it all in a sentence: high blood pressure is really common, changing activity and the way you eat can help control it. It’s always good to talk with your primary care provider about the best ways to treat or avoid high blood pressure it. Some people will need medication too.
For more information and advice specific to your health, call to schedule an appointment with your provider today!