The ONE organ responsible for high blood pressure.
5 Misconceptions About High Blood Pressure
Unfortunately there is no cure for high blood pressure currently, but you can take steps to manage it even without medication. Here are 7 ways to lower your blood pressure naturally: Exercise! Regular exercise is great for your overall well-being, and it can also help with lowering your BP.
It's important to remember that high blood pressure is not usually a death sentence. As long as you're regularly working with your doctor on treatment and managing your blood pressure levels, you will likely live a long life. This includes making significant changes to your health and lifestyle for the better.
First Misconception Is That High Blood Pressure Isn't a Big DealEarly on, you may not notice symptoms of high blood pressure, so you may not be too concerned. However, in the long run high blood pressure can kill you. Normally, your heart beats regularly, pumping blood through the vessels all over your body. As the blood is pushed by the heartbeat, the blood in turn pushes against the sides of your blood vessels. Blood vessels are flexible and can widen or constrict as needed to keep blood flowing well. For a variety of reasons, your blood may begin to push too hard against the blood vessels. This elevated blood pressure, which can cause your arteries to become stiff over time, is how problems begin. High blood pressure can lead to damage of your blood vessels, heart, kidneys, and other organs in your body. Heart disease and stroke, both caused by high blood pressure, are the first and fifth leading causes of death in the U.S.
Second Misconception Is That High Blood Pressure Can't Be PreventedPerhaps you have other relatives with high blood pressure. Maybe you're a member of a group of people who are at greater risk. For these or other reasons, you may be tempted to think that there's nothing you can do about high blood pressure.
- Keep your weight at a healthy level. You can accomplish this by a combination of healthy eating and regular exercise.
- Eat a healthy diet. This includes eating only the amount of food your body needs and choosing foods high in nutrients and low in fat, sugar, and salt.
- Limit how much salt you eat. Most of the sodium you eat is in the form of salt. It may be salt that you add at the table or salt added to processed foods you consume.
- Limit how much alcohol you drink.
- Don't smoke tobacco, and minimize your exposure to secondhand smoke.
- Get regular exercise. Try to get at least 30 minutes of activity each day, at least five days a week. Exercise relieves stress and helps you control your weight.
- Don't let stress build up. The chemicals your body makes in response to stress make your heart beat harder and faster and your blood vessels tighten. All this makes blood pressure higher.
Third Misconception About High Blood Pressure: It's OK As Long As One Number Is NormalYou may notice that when your doctor measures your blood pressure, the reading includes two numbers, one written on top of the other. These numbers can be confusing. The top number is called your systolic blood pressure. This number represents the force of blood through your blood vessels during your heartbeat.
- 119 or below is normal systolic blood pressure
- 120-129 is considered elevated
- 130 and greater is high blood pressure
- 79 or below is normal diastolic blood pressure
- 80 and greater is hypertension
Fourth Misconception About High Blood Pressure Is About TreatmentGive up your favorite foods. Take drugs with annoying side effects. These are some things you might fear when you think about high blood pressure treatment. It is true that it may take some time to develop a treatment plan that works best for you, because high blood pressure often has several underlying causes. In many cases, the specific cause of high blood pressure may not be evident.
- Diuretics to reduce the amount of fluid in your blood by helping your body rid itself of extra sodium
- ACE inhibitors, alpha-blockers, and calcium channel blockers to help keep your blood vessels from tightening
- Beta-blockers to prevent your body from making the hormone adrenaline; adrenaline is a stress hormone that makes your heart beat harder and faster. It also makes your blood vessels tighten. All of this makes blood pressure higher. The medication slows your heart rate, decreasing your blood pressure.
Fifth Misconception About High Blood Pressure: Treatment Doesn't WorkIn fact, if you work with your doctor to develop a comprehensive program for managing your high blood pressure, that plan can work. To maximize the benefits of your plan, follow these steps:
- Check your blood pressure as often as recommended by your doctor.
- Follow your treatment plan consistently. Let your doctor know right away if you have problems with parts of the plan. Your doctor may refer you to other health care professionals who can help.
- See your doctor as often as requested. Bring your blood pressure records to show your doctor how the plan is working.
- Ask your doctor or pharmacist for information about medication side effects. Know when to call your doctor if there is a problem.
- Reduce how much salt you take in.
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