If you’re one of the 80 million Americans with high blood pressure, you’ve probably resolved to make positive health and wellness changes in the new year. John Monroe, MD, Natalie Lake, MD, and their expert team assist patients in the Goodyear, Arizona area to live healthy, full lives all year long.
We understand how dangerous chronic high blood pressure is, and if you’re dealing with it, we can help. Dr. Monroe is a highly skilled board-certified family physician, and together with our team, he’s curated this guide to explain why chronic high blood pressure is a hazard to your health and what you can do about it.
Read on to learn more about chronic high blood pressure and our expert tips for managing it!!
Why is chronic high blood pressure dangerous?
Chronic high blood pressure, or hypertension, can develop for a number of different reasons. Certain medical conditions, like kidney disease, can make your blood pressure rise. Other times, unhealthy behaviors, like smoking or consuming high-sodium foods, are the root cause of hypertension. Occasionally, high blood pressure develops for no identifiable reason.
No matter the reason, chronic high blood pressure leads to more serious medical conditions, like heart disease and stroke. Hypertension usually takes years to develop and often doesn’t come with noticeable symptoms, earning it the nickname, “Silent Killer.” That’s because even without symptoms, chronic high blood pressure damages your heart and blood vessels.
That’s why it’s so important to have your blood pressure evaluated at least once per year at a routine physical exam and to take preventive action right away to stop further damage from occurring.
What can I do about my chronic high blood pressure?
Chronic high blood pressure may require prescription medication to control. However, you can make lifestyle changes to help your numbers drop. Here are our top five expert tips for controlling chronic high blood pressure.
1. Eat a heart-healthy diet
Many people in the new year are focused on changing their diet to help them shed excess pounds. What you eat also has a huge impact on your heart health and blood pressure. If you have chronic high blood pressure, it’s important to eat a heart-healthy diet.
Choose blood-pressure friendly snacks, like fruits and vegetables, and reduce unhealthy eating by starting each meal with a green salad. You’ll also want to limit your intake of sugars, salts, and saturated fats. Dr. Monroe will help you create a heart-healthy plan for your unique needs.
2. Avoid alcohol
Alcohol has been shown to have a positive impact on blood pressure — but only when consumed in moderation. If you exceed the recommended guidelines for alcohol consumption, your blood pressure actually increases. If possible, avoid alcohol completely or limit daily consumption to one drink for women or two drinks for men.
3. Check before taking OTC medications
Winter is here, and that means cold and flu season. If you’re like most people, you reach for an over-the-counter cold and flu medicine to help alleviate your symptoms. If you have high blood pressure, however, you need to be extra careful.
Many OTC medications contain decongestants, like oxymetazoline, phenylephrine, and pseudoephedrine. These ingredients can increase blood pressure. Be sure to talk to Dr. Monroe before taking any new medications.
4. Manage your stress
It’s hard to avoid stress in today’s busy world. If you have high blood pressure, however, it’s especially important to keep stress in check. Stress signals your body to enter “fight or flight” mode and increases your blood pressure as part of that response.
Though occasional stress is something your body can handle, constant stress is harmful and can cause your body serious damage. Breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, and lifestyle changes can help, and Dr. Monroe and our care team work with you to find healthy ways to relieve your stress.
5. Keep an eye on your numbers
Blood pressure rises and falls throughout the day. Regular monitoring helps you get to know what’s normal for you and what isn’t. Invest in an at-home monitor, and use it regularly throughout the year. Compare your results with the readings taken at Dr. Monroe’s office, and you’ll be able to see your blood pressure improve as you incorporate healthy changes.
How can I learn more?
The issues related to chronic high blood pressure build over time. Early intervention and treatment are key to reducing complications and improving your overall health. Contact our office to meet with the team at Healthy Life Family Medicine or book an appointment online today.