What's the Pressure
Tips to keep your blood flowing smoothly
About one in three Americans has high blood pressure. Half do not know they have it. Be aware of the risk factors and get your blood pressure checked regularly.
Q What are the risk factors associated with high blood pressure?
When you have high blood pressure, or hypertension, your heart and your kidneys have to work harder to pump blood and remove waste and excess fluid from the body. This raises your risk of heart failure, heart attack, stroke and kidney disease. Risk factors that cannot be controlled include family history, age and gender.
Q How important is exercise in reducing blood pressure?
Being physically active 30 to 60 minutes a day can significantly reduce your blood pressure. Even 10 minutes at a time can add to your total. Increasing your physical activity will also help you maintain a healthy weight. If you’re overweight, losing even five pounds can lower your blood pressure.
Q How does too much sodium in your diet affect blood pressure?
Too much salt in your diet causes your body to retain fluid. Your diet should consist of fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, lean meats, fish, nuts, legumes and whole grains. Potassium—in various fruits and vegetables—helps counteract the harmful effects of sodium. Reducing fats, salt, sugar and processed foods from your diet, as well as limiting your consumption of alcohol, will also help in lowering blood pressure.
Q How often should I have my blood pressure checked?
You’ll likely have your blood pressure taken as part of a routine doctor’s appointment. Ask your doctor for a blood pressure reading at least every two years starting at age 18. Your doctor will likely recommend more frequent readings if you’ve already been diagnosed with high blood pressure or other risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Children age 3 and older usually will have their blood pressure measured as a part of their yearly checkups.