Here at Wade Family Medicine, your health is our main concern. We service the Bountiful, Utah area, and we warmly welcome new patients. Our highly-trained family physicians are here to serve you. A doctor practicing family medicine can help you stay healthy by getting to know you and your medical conditions very well.
Since May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month, this article will discuss what this is and how you can possibly prevent it. High blood pressure is also known as hypertension. It can be managed with medication, but prevention is far preferable.
What is Blood Pressure?
This is simply the force of your blood as it pushes against your blood vessels. When your heart beats, it sends oxygen-carrying blood throughout your body. There has to be a certain amount of force, or the blood would never get where it’s supposed to go. However, when this force is too high, it causes damage to the blood vessels. If left untreated, hypertension can result in very serious damage to the whole body:
- Vision Loss
- Heart Failure
- Kidney Disease
- Loss of Sexual Function
Blood pressure is expressed in two numbers, one over the other. The top number is called the systolic. That’s the pressure when the heart beats. The bottom number is called the diastolic. That’s when the heart is resting between beats.
The ideal figure is 120/80. This can rise to 130/85 and still be considered to be within a high normal range in some cases, but anything higher is definitely too high. Never ignore high blood pressure readings.
The best way to manage this condition is to avoid it to begin with. Here are some tips:
- Achieve and Maintain a Normal Weight: Ask your family physician how much you should weigh for your sex, age, height and build. Whatever this figure is, you should stay within five pounds of it. Even being 10 pounds over your ideal weight can increase your chances of having problems with your blood pressure.
- Eat a Healthy Diet: This means consuming natural, whole foods as much as possible. Eat lots of vegetables and fruits. Be sure you get plenty of potassium. Avoid processed foods, saturated fats and sugar as much as you can. Fish is much better for you than red meat. There is a diet plan that you can follow. It’s called DASH, or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.
- Purchase a Blood Pressure Monitor: It’s hard to guard against this condition when you don’t know what your readings are. Monitors can be purchased in any drug store, are not necessarily expensive and are easy to use. Take your pressure at least twice a week. Any consistent rise should be reported immediately to your family physician. Remember that elevated blood pressure often presents no symptoms until severe damage has been done.
- Cut Way Back on Salt: Salt, or the sodium in it, is associated with higher pressure readings. Go easy on salt when you’re cooking and also at the table.
- Exercise: This is a great way to keep your blood pressure within normal ranges. It doesn’t have to be anything strenuous or jarring. As long as the heart rate is raised, that’s enough. Fast walking for a half hour at least 3 times a week is a good method.
- Avoid Alcohol in Excess: This means no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks a day for men.
For those who already have elevated blood pressure, the above tips will help them manage it. However, this would only be in conjunction with professional medical care. Many people also require medication to keep their blood pressure within normal ranges.
These are some guidelines for you to follow to help you avoid the devastating effects of elevated blood pressure on your body. If you live near the Bountiful, Utah area, and if you think or know that your pressure is too high, please contact us at (801) 298-9155 for an appointment. We look forward to speaking with you.