High Blood Pressure AKA Hypertension: What You Need to Know

High blood pressure (aka hypertension) is dangerous because it makes the heart work too hard and contributes to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). It increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, which are the first- and third-leading causes of death among Americans. High blood pressure also can result in other conditions such as congestive heart failure, kidney disease, and blindness. About two-thirds of people over age 65 have high blood pressure. 

If you have high blood pressure, you and your health care provider need to work together as a team to reduce it. The two of you need to agree on goals and make a plan and timetable for reaching your goals. 

Blood pressure is usually measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and is recorded blood pressureas two numbers—systolic pressure (as the heart beats) “over” diastolic pressure (as the heart relaxes between beats)—for example, 130/80 mmHg. Monitoring your blood pressure at home between visits to your doctor can be helpful. 

Being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing high blood pressure. In fact, your blood pressure rises as your body weight increases. Losing even 10 pounds can lower your blood pressure—and losing weight has the biggest effect on those who are overweight and already have hypertension.

Being physically active is one of the most important things you can do to prevent or control high blood pressure. All you need is 30 minutes of moderate-level physical activity on most days of the week. Examples of such activities are brisk walking, bicycling, raking leaves, and gardening. You can even divide the 30 minutes into shorter periods of at least 10 minutes each. 

What you eat affects your chances of getting high blood pressure. A healthy eating plan can both reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure and lower a blood pressure that is already too high. For an overall eating plan, consider the DASH diet, which stands for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.” You can reduce your blood pressure by eating foods that are low in saturated fat, total fat, and cholesterol, and high in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods. The DASH eating plan includes whole grains, poultry, fish, and nuts, and has low amounts of fats, red meats, sweets, and sugared beverages. It is also high in potassium, calcium, and magnesium, as well as protein and fiber. Eating foods lower in salt and sodium also can reduce blood pressure.

If you have high blood pressure, unfortunately the lifestyle habits noted above may not be enough to lower your blood pressure to a healthy level. In addition to eating healthy and staying active, you may need to take medication. There are many drugs available to lower blood pressure. They work in various ways. Often patients need to use two or more drugs to bring their blood pressure down enough to be healthy.

If you are suffering from obesity, and diet and exercise alone aren’t working to lower your weight, schedule an appointment at VIPSurg. Our experts can help you find a treatment to fits your unique situation. Call (702) 487-6000 to schedule an appointment.

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