Symptomatically silent, it’s often the first step toward a stroke or heart attack.
Blood pressure — your doctor routinely checks it because high blood pressure can contribute to strokes, heart attacks, heart failure, and other serious illnesses.
About 76 million adult Americans have high blood pressure, or hypertension. That means they have a top (systolic) number of 140 or higher or a bottom (diastolic) number of 90 or higher. Most of them don’t have their blood pressure under control.
Inflammation of the body’s arteries resulting from high blood pressure creates a biological magnet for cholesterol and other substances that form artery-injuring plaque. When plaque ruptures, clots form that can cut off blood flow to the heart (causing a heart attack) or brain (causing a stroke). Uncontrolled hypertension is also the leading cause of strokes caused by ruptured blood vessels in the brain.
According to a CDC report, almost half of the U.S. population should be limiting their daily sodium to 1,500 mg or less. Yet nearly 99% of these people exceed that daily limit.
Diet and exercise
Living healthfully can help you prevent and treat high blood pressure. You can help control your blood pressure by
maintaining a healthy weight
eating lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and limiting saturated fat
restricting sodium to no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) a day, or no more than 1,500 mg if you’re black, 51 or older, or already have high blood pressure, diabetes, or kidney disease
being physically active for at least 30 minutes every day
Multiple medication choices
When lifestyle adjustments alone don’t bring blood pressure under control, consider medications.
Blood pressure medications fall into five main classes: diuretics, ACE inhibitors and ARBs, calcium-channel blockers, beta blockers, and renin blockers. Many people need more than one type to reach their blood pressure goal.
Finding the right drug or combination should take into account your age, overall health, personal preferences, and tolerance of side effects, which range from dizziness and headache to constipation and erectile dysfunction.
If your blood pressure remains high despite your best efforts, talk with your doctor about revising your treatment plan or seeing a hypertension specialist.
High blood pressure may be silent in terms of symptoms, but it raises a ruckus with your health.