(Family Features) Nearly half of all American adults have high blood pressure, or hypertension, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those, about 75% don’t have it under control, and many may not even realize they have it unless they experience other complications.
In fact, high blood pressure is a leading cause and controllable risk factor for heart disease and stroke as well as other issues such as kidney failure, vision loss and sexual problems. However, the American Heart Association recommends taking these simple steps to help control your levels and manage risks.
1. Know Your Numbers
In most cases, normal blood pressure is 120/80 mm HG or less. Readings consistently higher than 130/80 are considered high blood pressure. Have your blood pressure measured at least once a year by a health care professional and regularly monitor it at home with a validated monitor then discuss the readings with your doctor. Getting accurate readings can help ensure the most appropriate treatment should any problems arise.
2. Maintain a Healthy Weight
If you’re overweight or obese, you’re at increased risk of high blood pressure. Losing just 3-5% of your body weight can help improve your numbers. There are an abundance of plans and programs available that can assist with weight loss, and taking positive steps with a friend or family member may help with motivation.
3. Get Active
To maximize health benefits and help keep blood pressure in the normal range, the American Heart Association recommends adults get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate activity, 75 minutes of vigorous activity or a combination of the two. Try activities like brisk walking, swimming, bicycling or dancing. For example, the Get Down with Your Blood Pressure campaign uses music and dance to help remember the four easy steps to self-monitor blood pressure:
4. Eat Well
Making small, simple changes to your eating habits can go a long way toward keeping you and your family healthy. Eating fruits and vegetables, such as mangos, avocados and blueberries, can lower blood pressure over time. Other smart choices include nuts and seeds, whole grains, lean proteins and fish.
5. Reduce Alcohol and Tobacco Usage
Smoking compounds risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, and the chemicals in tobacco smoke can harm your heart and blood vessels. Similarly, consuming alcohol excessively (more than two drinks per day) is associated with high blood pressure. Limiting alcohol consumption and stopping smoking – or avoiding secondhand smoke – can help reduce your risk.
If you develop high blood pressure, work with a health care professional to manage it, and visit heart.org/hbpcontrol to find local blood pressure resources, step-by-step self-monitoring videos and more.
Knowing how to correctly check your blood pressure is important, especially if your doctor recommends regular self-monitoring at home.
This project is supported by cooperative agreements (CPIMP201227 and CPIMP201228) with the Office of Minority Health (OMH) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), as part of a financial assistance award totaling $14.6 million in partnership with the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The contents do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by OMH/OASH/HHS or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit https://www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov/.
Photos courtesy of Getty Images