One of the main risk factors for disease and premature death in the United States is high blood pressure. Often referred to as the “silent killer” because it may show no symptoms, uncontrolled high blood pressure (or hypertension) puts individuals at an increased risk for heart disease, heart failure, stroke, kidney damage, and eye disease or loss of vision. Nearly half of adults in the U.S. have hypertension, and only about 1 in 4 of those individuals have their blood pressure under control. The good news is that, in most cases, making positive lifestyle changes can manage high blood pressure and lower the risk for serious health problems.
Treatment and Prevention
High blood pressure is serious but can be treated by making healthy lifestyle choices. Consider these simple steps to manage high blood pressure and lower associated risks.
- Know your numbers. Early detection of high blood pressure is very important. Measure your blood pressure on a regular basis. Blood pressure numbers of less than 120/80 mm Hg are considered within the normal range.
- Manage Diabetes. Monitor your blood glucose (also called blood sugar) levels carefully and talk with your health care team about treatment options.
- Maintain an active lifestyle and healthy weight. Strive for 150 minutes of physical activity each week. Obesity can raise your risk of high blood pressure.
- Reduce sodium intake. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams (mgs) a day and an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults, especially for those with high blood pressure.
- Eat healthfully. Focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and low-fat dairy products. Cut down on foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol.
- Cut down on alcohol and quit smoking. Drink alcohol in moderation. Smoking and using tobacco products increase the risk of developing high blood pressure.
- Limit caffeinated beverages. Blood pressure may increase after caffeine is introduced to the body.
- Reduce stress and follow healthy sleep practices. Meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, deep breathing exercises, and yoga are powerful relaxation techniques and stressbusters. Get sufficient sleep and establish healthy sleeping habits.
- Take medications as directed. Attend all follow-up visits with a physician to help manage your health conditions.
For more resources and facts about high blood pressure visit the CDC website.