One in three Americans has hypertension and another third has numbers that are perilously close to becoming hypertensive. In other words, two-thirds of the population is at risk for heart health challenges, but they also have the rare opportunity to reverse this serious health diagnosis or prevent it altogether.
Hypertension is often called the silent killer because the condition itself often doesn’t bring on any obvious symptoms, except when it’s too late and a cardiovascular condition sets in. But the disease isn’t terribly silent if you pay attention to the numbers.
Here at West Coast Medicine and Cardiology, with three locations in Fremont and Hayward, California, Dr. Rajesh Sam Suri and his team believe that solid preventive care is the first line of defense when it comes to hypertension. To that end, we’ve pulled together the following tips that can help prevent hypertension, allowing you to better safeguard your cardiovascular health long into the future
Hypertension — the new numbers
In 2017, the American Heart Association, along with 10 other health organizations in the United States, collectively agreed to lower the numbers that signal hypertension — from 140/90 to 130/80.
The reason behind this move is to get more people to take earlier action to lower their numbers and avoid the serious cardiovascular complications that can come with high blood pressure. In fact, a study found that the earlier the intervention, the better — when they targeted people with a systolic pressure under 120, they reduced the chance of heart attacks, heart failure, or stroke over a three-year period.
Watch the weight
Atop most hypertension prevention lists is maintaining a healthy weight. It’s hardly a coincidence that the overweight and obesity statistics in the United States are almost in lockstep with high blood pressure numbers. Simply stated, carrying extra weight puts you at serious risk for hypertension.
The good news is that losing just 10 pounds can make a difference, then aided further by every pound after that. We’re happy to help you come up with a great plan that will help you lose the appropriate weight for your situation, but the key is to be patient and not feel overwhelmed about losing all your extra weight at once. Every little bit helps.
Get up and go
One of the best ways to lose weight, as well as improve your cardiovascular health, is to increase how much you move every day. And, here again, every small effort pays off in spades. For example, instead of taking the elevator or escalator, grab the stairs. Or you can park farther away from where you need to go to increase the steps you take each day.
A great tool to help you ramp up your exercise routine, and keep you motivated, is that handy little health app that’s found on most smartphones. These apps track the distance you cover each day and how many steps you take. While the brass ring of step counts is 10,000 per day, challenge yourself to get closer and closer if you’re just starting out.
Make a DASH for it
Diet plays a key role in hypertension and, if your numbers are high, we typically urge you to go on the DASH (dietary approaches to hypertension) diet. At the heart of this diet is a reduction in sodium, as well as an increase in important nutrients like potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
If your numbers aren’t quite hypertensive, but they’re getting close, you’d do well to implement a few of the DASH guidelines. The best way to do this is to cut salt from your diet and try other seasonings, such as lemon juice, garlic, or spices.
To increase your levels of potassium, calcium, and magnesium, add some more vegetables to your diet, especially dark leafy greens, and turn to whole grains instead of processed carbs. This means ditching the white bread for healthier whole grain or wheat breads. And fruit offers up a wealth of vitamins and nutrients that help lower blood pressure numbers.
With a few changes in you diet and exercise routines, you make a significant difference in your blood pressure numbers, preventing you from crossing over into hypertension. If you have more questions, please don’t hesitate to give us a call or use the online scheduling tool to set up an appointment.