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Cabarrus Magazine

High Blood Pressure: The Silent Disease

May 11, 2020 12:18PM ● By Reena Aggarwal, PharmD Candidate 2020

Article By: Reena Aggarwal, PharmD Candidate 2020, Mercer University College of Pharmacy

 

According to the American Heart Association, almost half of the United States adult population has high blood pressure, or hypertension (some who might not even realize it). Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls when the heart is beating (systolic, top number) and resting between beats (diastolic, bottom number). Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80 mm Hg, and high blood pressure is more than 130/80 mm Hg and remains consistently high over time.

There are no obvious symptoms of high blood pressure, which is why it can be dangerous. Taking a few minutes to check your blood pressure at your local pharmacy or when you have an appointment with your healthcare provider can ensure early management and treatment. Since there is no one specific cause of high blood pressure, it’s important to try and control your modifiable risk factors (ones you can change) to prevent further complications from occurring. If left uncontrolled, there is a risk of stroke, vision loss, heart failure, heart attack, sexual dysfunction, and kidney disease/failure.

Who is at risk of developing high blood pressure?

·         Family history

·         Age and gender: males at higher risk until age 64, females if 65 and older

·         Race: African Americans are more at risk compared to other racial backgrounds

·         Overweight or obesity

·         Lack of physical activity

·         Unhealthy diet, especially if high in sodium

·         Heavy alcohol use

·         Smoking and tobacco use

·         Other conditions (diabetes, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, chronic kidney disease)

·         Stress

What changes can you make?

·         Exercise: at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise 5 days a week (i.e. brisk walking)

·         Healthy diet: fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains

·         Limit: sodium, red meat, trans and saturated fats, and sweets and sugary drinks

·         Lose weight: as little as 5-10 pounds can help

·         Limit alcohol intake: no more than 2 drinks per day for men and 1 drink per day for women

·         Quit smoking and/or using tobacco

·         Controlling other health conditions

·         Reduce stress

·         Contact your doctor to get started on appropriate medications if you are not seeing an improvement in your numbers

 

References

1.      More than 100 million Americans have high blood pressure, AHA says. www.heart.org. https://www.heart.org/en/news/2018/05/01/more-than-100-million-americans-have-high-blood-pressure-ah.... Published January 31, 2018. Accessed February 12, 2020.

2.      High Blood Pressure. www.heart.org. https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure. Accessed February 17, 2020.

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