Ask A Doc: High Blood Pressure

Donna Zambetis, NP-C from NOMG’s Family Medicine office answers your questions about high blood pressure.

What is high blood pressure?

High blood pressure, also called Hypertension, is very common, affecting one in three adults. Unfortunately, high blood pressure usually has no readily visible symptoms.

Think of your arteries as pipes. When the heart pumps blood, the pressure of the blood against the artery walls is called blood pressure. Systolic pressure is the first number and is the highest blood pressure measured during your heart pumping, while diastolic pressure is the second number and is the lowest pressure measured. The goal for an average blood pressure is 140 over 90 (140/90) for most people.

You can have your blood pressure checked either at your health care provider’s office, pharmacy, or with a home monitor.

What causes high blood pressure?

Many factors contribute to high blood pressure.  Major risk factors are family history, smoking, obesity, and sleep apnea. Men are at a greater risk than women. Just being over 45 is a major risk factor for high blood pressure because blood vessels become stiffer as we age.

How do you treat high blood pressure? 

The good news is high blood pressure can be controlled by lifestyle changes and medications. Diet, exercise and lifestyle changes are the most helpful actions to control your high blood pressure.

  • Eat a heart healthy diet including high fiber and potassium rich foods. Have a goal of five servings of fruit and vegetables per day.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Limit the amount of salt you eat.
  • Limit alcohol, with no more than one drink a day for women, and two drinks a day for men.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Even a modest weight loss of 10 pounds can improve your blood pressure.
  • Exercise regularly with a goal of 30 minutes daily. Walking is a great way to start and all you need is a good pair of walking shoes.
  • Reduce stress and try to avoid situations which cause you stress.
  • If you smoke, QUIT! There are numerous programs and medications to help you quit and your health care provider can provide individual recommendations to help you quit.
  • Finally, in those instances where blood pressure remains high even though you have attempted to make positive changes, medications can be used keep your blood pressure under control.
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