Watch my clip today with FoxBoston news talking about the “silent killer” of high blood pressure.
Did you know that almost one THIRD of all adults above the age of 18 (yes, people–that means even people in their TWENTIES) have elevated blood pressure, and half of them have it at dangerous, uncontrolled levels? High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke– it makes someone 3x more likely to die from heart disease, and 4x more likely to die from a stroke.
What’s a goal BP? Ideally, it should be under 120/80, but above 140/90 is where you should be in discussions with your doctor about steps to lower it. Check out the CDC’s Guidelines on Blood Pressure.
So what should you do?
- Lifestyle–I always encourage people to try this first–changes to one area of your lifestyle will start a great cycle!
- Diet–check out the DASH low-salt diet
- Weight Loss–I KNOW I KNOW, we doctors all sound like a broken record, but weight loss REALLY can impact your blood pressure! For every pound of weight lost, your blood pressure lowers by 1 point, so if you lose 10-20 pounds, your blood pressure would drop by up to 20 points–without any medications! That’s enough to get it from danger levels back to healthy!
- Smoking– Not only does smoking cause vessel hardening and worsen pressure, but in the 30 minutes to an hour after a cigarette, your blood pressure rises even more dangerous–making that time the highest risk for heart attack and stroke.
- If the above plans dont lower your blood pressure enough (but kudos to you for trying, and you’ll still see the health benefits of them!), then it’s time to talk to your doctor about medication. DONT wait until you’re having to see me in the ER for dangerously high pressures! Also, do NOT just stop taking the medication if it has some side effect or other problem–talk to your doctor about alternative medications, so that you can get one that WORKS and you will actually TAKE. You wouldn’t expect every pair of shoes to fit you right? It’s the same with medications–sometimes one that works well for someone else just wont fit you perfectly. That doesn’t mean you’re going to go barefoot, you’re just going to try a new pair–it’s the same with your medications. Keep working with your doctor until you find what works for you.