High blood pressure is the single most significant risk factor for heart disease. When your blood pressure stays within healthy ranges, you reduce the strain on your heart, arteries, and kidneys which keeps you healthier longer.
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, means the blood running through your arteries flows with too much force and puts pressure on your arteries, stretching them past their healthy limit and causing microscopic tears. Our body then kicks into injury-healing mode to repair these tears with scar tissue. But unfortunately, the scar tissue traps plaque and white blood cells which can form into blockages, blood clots, and hardened, weakened arteries.
By keeping your blood pressure in the healthy range, you are:
1. Reducing your risk of overstretched or injured blood vessel walls
2. Reducing your risk of blockages which also protects your heart and brain
3. Protecting your entire body so that your tissue receives regular supplies of blood that is rich in the oxygen it needs.
What is the Cost of High Blood Pressure?
Uncontrolled high blood pressure can injure or kill you. It’s sometimes called “the silent killer” because it has no symptoms. Approximately 90% of all Americans will develop hypertension over their lifetime and one in three adults has high blood pressure, yet, many people don’t even know they have it. Uncontrolled high blood pressure kills people and wreaks havoc on many lives by causing heart disease and stroke.
Blockages and blood clots mean less blood can get to our vital organs, and without blood, the tissue dies. That’s why high blood pressure can lead to stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, and even heart failure.
What Can I Do to Reduce My Blood Pressure?
Good news! High blood pressure is manageable. Whether your blood pressure is high or normal (normal is less than 120 mm Hg systolic AND less than 80 mm Hg diastolic or <120/80) the lifestyle modifications listed here provide a great heart-healthy living plan for all of us. In addition, these changes may reduce your blood pressure without the use of prescription medications: eating a heart-healthy diet, which includes reducing sodium; enjoying regular physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight; managing stress; limiting alcohol; avoiding tobacco smoke.