Blood pressure is a measurement of the way that blood presses against your artery walls. If your blood flows at higher-than-normal pressure, you may have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. Millions of Americans (one out of two adults) have high blood pressure, but many people don’t know it. It is often called “the silent killer” because it gives off no symptoms. The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have it checked periodically. High blood pressure cannot be cured, but it can be managed effectively through lifestyle changes, and if needed, medication.
If you blood pressure stays higher than 130/80 mm Hg for a period of time, it can cause serious problems such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and dementia. Blood vessels in your eyes may also burst under increased pressure and when this happens, it can cause blindness.
Risk factors for high blood pressure include:
Age: Blood pressure tends to get higher as we get older. However, it can affect younger people too.
Genes: High blood pressure often runs in families.
Gender: Before age 60, more men than women have high blood pressure. After age 60, more women have it than men.
Race or ethnicity: While anyone can have high blood pressure, African Americans tend to get it at a younger age. Among Hispanic adults, people of Cuban, Puerto Rican, and Dominican backgrounds are at a higher risk.
Lifestyle habits: Eating too much salt, drinking too much alcohol, being obese, smoking, and not getting enough exercise can raise your blood pressure.
What should I change?
Eat healthy foods, such as more fruits and vegetables. Eat less salt. Drink less caffeine.
Avoid foods with saturated fats and cholesterol. Consider boosting potassium,
which lessens the effects of sodium on blood pressure.
Move more. Get at least 2 ½ hours of physical activity a week.
Aim for a healthy weight – Losing just 3 to 5 percent of your body weight can improve
your blood pressure. If you weigh 200 lbs., that is a weight loss of 6 to 10 lbs.
Reduce stress by practicing mindful meditation.
Practice relaxation technics, laugh more.