As February, American Heart Month, draws to a close, it’s a good time to take stock of our heart health. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 67 million Americans have high blood pressure, making them four times more likely to suffer a stroke, and three times more likely to die of a heart attack. There are many drivers of high blood pressure including hormones, stress, diet, and lack of exercise, but the bottom line is high blood pressure can have dangerous consequences, resulting in a buildup of plaque, inflammation, and a weakening of the heart over time.
Known as a silent killer, high blood pressure often presents no symptoms, which is why monitoring your blood pressure and taking charge of your heart health is so important.
Ways to Take Control of High Blood Pressure
- Know your blood pressure and what it should be. Get screened by your doctor and set goals to achieve healthy blood pressure targets.
- Monitor blood pressure at home using a blood pressure monitor, and always take blood pressure medicines as directed. Tip: set a timer as a reminder to take meds at the same time each day.
- Quit smoking. For tips on being successful, visit the CDC’s Smoking and Tobacco website.
- Diet and exercise are key. At least thirty minutes of physical exercise three times a week is recommended. Eat a healthy, balanced diet and reduce sodium intake which can elevate blood pressure.
- Reduce stress. Incorporate routine stress breaks into your day – try practicing deep breathing, yoga or stretching, meditation, and mindfulness.
Laura Kneeskern is a Home Care Consultant with Home Instead Senior Care Denver North. Home Instead is a nationally recognized leader in home care services, resources, and advocacy for senior issues.