Medical Minute: High Blood Pressure
Hi, I’m Dr. Kristin Newsom, a Family Physician at Reliant Medical Group in Holden. I wanted to talk to you today about high blood pressure. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a disease that affects almost one-third of the US adult population. Hypertension is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, and is sometimes known as the silent killer, because many of its effects are not felt, until they’re unfortunately too late. High blood pressure is now considered numbers above 140 over 90 in people up to age 60, and 150 over 90 and those over 60. While many adults with high blood pressure are on medication, only about half are under good control. And, while medication is often an important part of treatment, it isn’t all you can do to improve your numbers. Sometimes patients are surprised to learn how much of an impact healthy lifestyle choices can make on your readings and may reduce your need for medication. For example, simply adding 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, on most days per week, can decrease your systolic blood pressure, or the top number, by four points. With every one percent reduction in body weight, you can drop an additional point. Diet, such as the DASH diet, which are high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low in sodium are also helpful. Limiting salt intake by avoiding processed foods and added salt may reduce by four to eight points. Healthy alcohol consumption is also important, and is considered no more than two drinks per day for men, and one for women. Of course for those who smoke, quitting smoking is one of the most important things you can do for your health. People who smoke have a two to six times higher risk of heart attack and three times higher risk of stroke, compared to non-smokers. So remember, if you have trouble with high blood pressure, talk to your healthcare provider for more information.