They call hypertension the “silent killer” because it sneaks up without warning and can be life-threatening when it does.
That’s why we check your blood pressure every time you visit us at Redwood Family Health Center in McKinney and Farmers Ranch, Texas. Elevated blood pressure indicates a serious health condition that can lead to heart attack, stroke, aneurysms, and other medical emergencies.
Fortunately, you have control over several of the most common contributors to hypertension, and making a few changes can lower your blood pressure and possibly save your health.
When we take your blood pressure, the machine measures two aspects of your circulation.
The first number is called systolic blood pressure, and it measures how much force your heart exerts on your arteries’ walls with each beat.
The second number is called diastolic blood pressure, and it measures the force on your arteries’ walls in between heartbeats. Normal blood pressure is a systolic number of 120 or lower and a diastolic number of 80 or below. It looks like 120/80 when written and sounds like “120 over 80” when spoken.
High blood pressure typically occurs without symptoms, so you may have it without realizing it. The only way to know is to have your blood pressure checked. There are several stages of hypertension, and each one is progressively more dangerous.
Elevated: 120-129 systolic and 80 or less diastolic
Hypertension stage 1: 130-139 systolic and 80-89 diastolic
Hypertension stage 2: 140 systolic and 90 diastolic
Hypertensive crisis: 180 or higher systolic and 120 or higher diastolic
Because arteries narrow and harden over time, your hypertension may be age-related. It may also be connected to other health conditions, such as kidney disease or infection, diabetes, lupus, or thyroid problems.
However, many hypertension contributors are simple lifestyle choices you can control. Here, Dr. Venkata Vallury and Dr. Visalakshi Vallury explain the lifestyle changes you can make to lower your blood pressure.
Genetics can put you behind the blood pressure 8-ball. For example, if you’re black and of African or Caribbean descent, you’re at a higher risk for developing hypertension than others. If high blood pressure runs in your family, you’re also more likely to get it. And advanced age does a number on your arteries, so if you’re over 65, you may develop high blood pressure regardless of how healthy you are.
Aside from those factors, most of the reasons behind hypertension are related to the choices you make. This means that changing your habits can reverse the problem. Here are some of the top lifestyle changes you can make to prevent hypertension or lower your high blood pressure.
Alcohol increases your blood pressure. Excess alcohol consumption can raise your blood pressure a couple of points at a time and reduce the effectiveness of blood pressure medications if you’re taking them.
Men should limit alcohol intake to no more than two drinks a day (12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof alcohol), and women should stick to no more than one a day.
Like alcohol, smoking elevates blood pressure. Quitting has an immediate positive effect and lowers blood pressure within 24 hours.
Sodium is the enemy of healthy blood pressure. Unfortunately, the typical American diet contains off-the-chart sodium levels. Fast food and processed foods contain high levels of sodium, so get in the habit of reading labels. Shoot for no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day — that’s about one teaspoon.
Sleeping well supports healthy blood pressure. Try to keep a regular sleep schedule that allows you to snooze soundly and uninterrupted for at least seven hours.
Stress can make your blood pressure spike, so do what you can to avoid unnecessary stress and manage the stress you can’t avoid. Practice deep breathing exercises, meditation, and mindfulness.
Getting plenty of exercise is one of the best things you can do for your blood pressure. Just 30 minutes a day can translate into lower blood pressure. Do what you love — walking, swimming, cycling, yoga, dancing — all movement counts.
To make sure your blood pressure stays within a safe range, come see us regularly for a quick check. If you’d rather monitor your blood pressure at home, we can help you choose an accurate blood pressure cuff that will give you reliable readings.
If you’re concerned about hypertension, call us today for an appointment with one of our physicians or book online. We can monitor your blood pressure and help you maintain healthy circulation for life.