High blood pressure, or hypertension, is one of our country’s leading causes of premature death and disability. Fortunately, high blood pressure is almost always controllable. By checking your blood pressure regularly, following your doctor’s advice regarding diet, exercise, medication, and risk factor reduction, you can help control your blood pressure for better health.
How often you should have your blood pressure checked depends on your current pressure as well as your medical history and any risk factors you may have. Generally, if your blood pressure is normal and you are not otherwise at risk, a professional screening every 1-2 years is sufficient.
Diet and Exercise
Heavy sodium consumption has been shown to increase blood pressure in some people, so reducing your sodium intake is advisable. Limiting your intake of saturated fat and cholesterol is also beneficial since these foods are known to contribute to artery-damaging deposits called plaque. Regular physical exercise that strengthens the cardiovascular system is also recommended since studies show that active persons tend to have lower blood pressure than those who lead sedentary lifestyles.
If you are unable to control your blood pressure through diet and exercise alone, your physician may prescribe medication. Take your medication regularly and continue to take it even after your blood pressure is in check. If you experience any side effects, do not stop taking your medication. Instead, contact your doctor who can provide an alternative to your current prescription.
Risk Factor Reduction
Whether or not you suffer from hypertension, you can benefit greatly by adopting wise “healthstyle” choices. If you smoke, stop. Moderate your use of alcohol and employ relaxation techniques to help eliminate excess stress. High blood pressure is a serious disease, but you can control it.