What you need to know about high blood pressure
You may have been told you have high blood pressure, but you feel just fine. So, what’s the big deal? When blood pressure is high, there is stress added to your heart and other organs. Cardiologist James Ampadu, MD, shared information to help you understand the risk factors for high blood pressure and the treatment options.
“It is important to watch out for the risk factors that can lead to high blood pressure. While some are out of your control, others are lifestyle choices that can be adjusted for less risk,” said Dr. Ampadu.
Risk factors for high blood pressure, include:
- Family history. If mom, dad or someone else in your family has a history of high blood pressure, you have an increased risk yourself.
- Age. As you age, the risk for developing high blood pressure increases.
- Sex. It is more common for men to have high blood pressure than women.
- Chronic kidney disease. Your kidneys play a role in keeping your blood pressure regulated. Diseased kidneys can’t perform this role well.
- Smoking. This increases inflammation and inhibits the vascular system, veins and arteries.
- Diabetes. High blood sugars can increase the inflammation in your arteries.
- Obesity. Being overweight can cause stress on the blood vessels.
- Drinking alcohol. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can affect your blood pressure. The American Heart Association suggests limits of one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
- Lack of exercise. Being sedentary can be harmful to your blood pressure – 150 minutes per week of moderate intense aerobic activity is recommended.
- Sleep apnea. This is a sleep disorder where you are not getting adequate oxygen into your body while sleeping. This can cause long-term damage and needs to be diagnosed through a sleep study. It is important to talk to your primary care doctor.
- Certain medications. Be aware of a group of medications called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These are medications like ibuprofen and aspirin. It’s okay to take these medications as you need them, but if you take them regularly it can increase your chance of having high blood pressure.
- High sodium intake. Eating a sodium rich diet can cause you to retain more fluid, adding more stress to your heart.
How can you treat high blood pressure?
Having long standing high blood pressure that isn’t treated is dangerous. It can put you at risk for stroke, heart attack and raise other health concerns. “It is definitely something you want to talk to your doctor about,” said Dr. Ampadu.
Treatment options for high blood pressure include:
- Dietary changes
- Weight loss
- Sleep study
“High blood pressure can be prevented in many ways and even treated with lifestyle changes. It is important for your overall health to know and understand your blood pressure numbers and to see your doctor regularly,” said Dr. Ampadu.
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