By Paresh Bharodiya, M.D.
High blood pressure often presents with no symptoms, no warnings. Yet it increases the risk for heart disease and stroke, two leading causes of death for Americans. It’s also very common.
It’s important that you see your doctor to ensure your blood pressure is under control.
At WellMed, we practice proactive, preventive medicine to keep you healthy. Through health screenings and regular appointments, we monitor your health to find issues before they become more serious health problems. Your blood pressure requires regular screening to keep under control.
What is high blood pressure?
Your arteries carry blood from the heart to other parts of your body. When your blood pressure is high, it means the blood is putting too much pressure on your arteries.
High blood pressure can lead to significant health problems, such as:
- heart disease
- heart attack
- heart failure
- poor cognitive function
The risk factors
There are several factors that contribute to a risk for high blood pressure:
- Diabetes – About six out of 10 people who have diabetes also have high blood pressure.
- Unhealthy diet – Eating too much sodium and not enough potassium increases blood pressure. Most of the sodium we eat comes from processed foods and restaurant foods. Potassium is found in many foods such as bananas, potatoes, beans and yogurt.
- Obesity – With obesity your heart has to work harder to pump blood and oxygen to your body. This can add stress to your heart and blood vessels.
- Physical inactivity – Your heart is a muscle. With regular activity, it can become stronger, which may help lower your blood pressure.
- Alcohol – Too much alcohol consumption can raise your blood pressure.
- Tobacco – Smoking can damage the heart and blood vessels. Nicotine and carbon monoxide reduces the amount of oxygen the blood can carry.
- Genetics – Heredity plays a role in your likelihood to have high blood pressure. The risk can increase when combined with unhealthy lifestyle choices.
The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have a doctor or other health professional measure it. You should also talk to your doctor about regularly monitoring your blood pressure at home.
Also, if you are prescribed medication(s) to manage your blood pressure, make sure to consistently and accurately take your medication.
How to manage high blood pressure
You can make some changes so you can avoid the health hazards brought on by high blood pressure.
- Getting at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week (about 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week)
- Not smoking
- Eating a healthy diet
- Keeping a healthy weight
- Managing stress
Simple changes in your diet, physical activity and seeing your doctor regularly can help you stay healthier and avoid the complications of high blood pressure.
Call your WellMed clinic today to schedule an appointment and keep your blood pressure in check.
Paresh Bharodiya, M.D. (WellMed at Brandon Regional) is board certified in internal medicine. He earned his medical degree from Surat Municipal Institute of Medical Education and Research in Gujarat, India. He completed his internal medicine residency at Brooklyn Hospital Center in Brooklyn, New York.