Why Manage Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. When your blood pressure stays within healthy ranges, you reduce the strain on your heart, arteries, and kidneys which keeps you healthier longer.
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, means the blood running through your arteries flows with too much force and puts pressure on your arteries, stretching them past their healthy limit and causing microscopic tears. Our body then kicks into injury-healing mode to repair these tears with scar tissue. But unfortunately, the scar tissue traps plaque and white blood cells which can form into blockages, blood clots, and hardened, weakened arteries.
By keeping your blood pressure in the healthy range, you are:
1. Reducing your risk of overstretched or injured blood vessel walls
2. Reducing your risk of blockages which also protects your heart and brain
3. Protecting your entire body so that your tissue receives regular supplies of blood that is rich in the oxygen it needs.
What is the Cost of High Blood Pressure?
Uncontrolled high blood pressure can injure or kill you. It's sometimes called "the silent killer" because it has no symptoms. One in three adults has high blood pressure, yet, many people don’t even know they have it. Uncontrolled high blood pressure kills people and wreaks havoc on many lives by causing heart disease and stroke.
Blockages and blood clots mean less blood can get to our vital organs, and without blood, the tissue dies. That’s why high blood pressure can lead to stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, and even heart failure.
What Can I Do to Reduce My Blood Pressure?
Good news! High blood pressure is manageable. Whether your blood pressure is high or normal (normal is less than 120 mm Hg systolic AND less than 80 mm Hg diastolic or <120/80) the lifestyle modifications listed here provide a great heart-healthy living plan for all of us.
In addition, these changes may reduce your blood pressure without the use of prescription medications:
- eating a heart-healthy diet, which includes reducing sodium;
- enjoying regular physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight;
- managing stress; limiting alcohol; avoiding tobacco smoke.
Blood Pressure Success Story:
Tisha Dixon-Williams, 32, of Brooklyn, NY
A year ago, Tisha thought she was pretty healthy, despite her junk food diet. After a while, she began to notice problems with balance and dizziness. When her computer screen seemed blurry, she told herself she must need new glasses. “I finally went to the doctor, and when I walked in my blood pressure was 190 over 120. I was a walking stroke.”
Tisha made some important changes and now she controls her risk factors much better. She stays physically active by dancing – something she’s always loved. Tisha has made other positive lifestyle changes too, including taking blood pressure medication.
“I’ve learned that if you can control... what you put in your mouth, you can control anything, like saying ‘no’ to that bag of salty chips. I’m not a saint all the time, but I do make wiser choices. I’ve learned that if I control what I eat, everything else is a piece of cake – no pun intended!”