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High blood pressure may lack warning signs

Daily Oklahoman - 6/19/2018

June 19--High blood pressure may lack warning signs

Q: About one in three adults in the U.S. has been diagnosed with hypertension and only about 54 percent of that population have their hypertension under control, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Why is it important to speak with your primary care physician about the disease?

A: Hypertension, or high blood pressure, may not have any warning signs or symptoms and many may not know they have it. Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries, which rises and falls throughout the day. High blood pressure raises the risk for heart disease, which is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. Hypertension may harden your arteries as a response to increased pressure on the inner walls. Hardened arteries are less elastic and become narrowed leading to decreased blood flow to your organs, namely the heart and brain leading to heart attacks and strokes.

Q: What can you do at home to track your progress and numbers?

A: You can find out if you have high blood pressure or if you are at risk by measuring your blood pressure with a blood pressure cuff, which is ideal for tracking your progress and numbers daily. Most cuffs are digital and serve as a portable monitor, making it easily accessible to read anytime and anywhere. Your primary care physician may ask you to record your blood pressure every day and show them the results. Once you know your numbers, you can work with your physician to take any necessary steps to manage your blood pressure.

Q: What can Oklahomans do to prevent and control high blood pressure?

A: One of the biggest ways to help control blood pressure is to make simple lifestyle changes. Speak with your primary care physician about any changes you wish to pursue and take any medications they prescribe. Make sure to inform them if you have side effects to any prescribed medication. The more knowledge you have about high blood pressure, the better positioned you'll be to make decisions about your health regarding the disease. Oklahomans who reduce their consumption of saturated and trans fats, as well as red meat, sodium, sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soda, can help keep high blood pressure at bay. The American Heart Association recommends adding fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, skinless poultry and fish, and nuts and legumes to your diet to help manage blood pressure. Furthermore, physical activity not only helps control high blood pressure, but also helps you manage your weight, strengthen your heart and lower your stress level. The Centers for Disease Control recommends a brisk 10-minute walk, three times a day, five days a week.

PAULA BURKES, BUSINESS WRITER

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