Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Keep your blood pressure in check

Keep your blood pressure in check

Hypertension is the term used to describe high blood pressure. High blood pressure causes the heart to work harder than normal and the blood vessels to get harder and less flexible over time. This puts you at a higher risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure and kidney damage. Your blood pressure is considered high if you have a systolic blood pressure of 140 or greater or a diastolic pressure of 90 or greater. A healthy adult has a blood pressure of less than 130/80 mmHg.
High blood pressure can be controlled through lifestyle changes and, if needed, blood pressure lowering medications. We encourage you to have your blood pressure monitored regularly. If you have high blood pressure, your doctor may recommend these lifestyle changes:
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat foods low in salt (sodium)
  • If you drink, do so in moderation
  • Follow a healthy diet
  • Be physically active
  • Quit smoking
If your blood pressure is not controlled by lifestyle changes, your doctor may have you take medications to lower your blood pressure. Some of the common classes of blood pressure medications are: diuretics (water pills), beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors and calcium channel blockers. Your blood pressure may return to higher levels if you stop taking your medication before your doctor tells you to. Therefore, it's very important that you take your medication even after your blood pressure is lowered. If you have problems with your medications or if you experience any side effects, make sure you discuss these issues with your doctor. You should never stop taking blood pressure medications on your own. In addition, be sure to tell your doctor before starting over-the-counter products and herbal medications as they can affect your blood pressure or blood pressure medications.
We encourage you to take an active role in your health care and to partner with your doctor and other health professionals. If your blood pressure is higher than the goal set for you by your doctor or if you're having problems with your medication, schedule an appointment with your doctor.

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