Have you ever wondered why your doctor always begins each visit with a blood pressure check? Or perhaps why it is always referred to as a “vital sign?” The answer to each of these questions is simple. Your blood pressure is the single greatest factor that you can control through lifestyle choices that directly impacts your cardiovascular health.
The goal for any blood pressure screening is 130/80. Numbers higher than those adversely affect your brain, heart and kidneys. By having high blood pressure, you are putting your body at risk for brain hemorrhaging, stroke, dementia, increased heart size, heart attack, kidney failure and dialysis.
Before those of you with high blood pressure begin to panic, we have some good news. Currently, there are numerous treatments available, including medications for almost all types of patients with high blood pressure. Research has also helped us to identify everyday factors that can be modified for prevention such as salt intake, caffeine use, smoking, alcohol drinking, emotional stress and a sedentary lifestyle. Exercise and weight loss have also been proven to significantly reduce high blood pressure, and may even help to eliminate the need for medication once your blood pressure has normalized.
For those of us who happen to have a significant family history of high blood pressure, it is advised that we keep ourselves active. This includes watching our diet and engaging in regular physical activity such as walking, running and swimming.
Remember, high blood pressure is the single greatest contributor to cardiovascular disease, premature death and disability. So let’s all be proactive in doing what we can to maintain a normal blood pressure. And if you can’t do it alone, always consult with your doctor for the appropriate medications.