One in three Americans has high blood pressure, a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates. Yet, even though it’s so prevalent, many people do not know they have this problem until something major goes wrong.
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Cardiologist David Frid, MD, says, “One of the problems with blood pressure is your body is working real hard, but often, until you have a heart attack or have a stroke or you develop kidney failure — you don’t know,” he says.
“For the longest time, we’ve called high blood pressure the ‘silent killer’ because, in fact, there are no symptoms. ”
So if you have high blood pressure or want to lessen your risk for developing high blood pressure, there are some simple things you can do:
Yes, you’ve heard this before, but consider that a little bit of exercise goes a long way. Dr. Frid says, “A good walk outside could do it. Getting on the treadmill, riding a bicycle — either stationary or outside.”
Dr. Frid says your blood pressure will benefit from 30 to 45 minutes of exercise, three to five days a week. Just make sure the activity is strenuous enough to raise your heart rate above its resting level.
“It doesn’t have to be working out in the gym,” Dr. Frid says. “It doesn’t have to be going out for a really long, strenuous run.”
2. Cut down on sodium, add minerals
Dr. Frid says a low-sodium diet that’s made up of foods packed with potassium, calcium, and magnesium will also help. A diet such as the DASH Eating Plan offers a variety of foods and has been proven to reduce blood pressure.
3. Be proactive
Dr. Frid says even if your blood pressure is not high, you still have to keep it under control. High blood pressure is defined as blood pressure equal to or greater than 140/90 mm-Hg. An ideal blood pressure is less than 120/80.
Be sure to continue taking your medications even if you start to feel better. Never stop taking them without your doctor’s approval. It may be your medications that are keeping your blood pressure in good control.
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