May is High Blood Pressure Education Month. So, while we’re on the topic, how is your blood pressure? Do you even know if it’s normal, elevated, or high? Millions (yes, millions!) of Americans have high blood pressure and many don’t even know it!
So what does healthy blood pressure look like, first of all? Check out the below chart from the American Heart Association (www.heart.org):
High blood pressure doesn’t usually cause symptoms but is linked to serious health issues like heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and dementia. Yikes! Scary. Certain factors are known to contribute to a higher blood pressure, such as age, genes, sex, race/ethnicity, and lifestyle habits like drinking and smoking. It’s important to know if you’re at a greater risk due to any of those things.
So get to your doctor, get a blood pressure reading, and talk about those numbers. If you’re in the normal range, great! Keep up the good work! And if not, before something more serious happens, consider making some changes:
- Make it a point to eat healthier (low sodium, low saturated fat, less meat, more fruits and veggies).
- Move your body for at least 2.5 hours per week, whether that’s hardcore cardio or a decent-paced walk through the neighborhood or anything in between.
- Aim for a healthy weight. (Hint: If you’re doing the first two bullet points, this one shouldn’t be too difficult.)
- Manage your stress. Ever tried yoga, meditation, or journaling?
- Steer clear of cigarettes. Visit Smokefree.gov or BeTobaccoFree.hhs.gov to connect with others trying to quit too! You don’t have to do it alone!
Visit www.nhlbi.nih.gov/hypertension for more information and to take control of your blood pressure today!