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Reduce Your Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke - Prevent high blood pressure

From the Cardiac Rehab team at Crossing Rivers Health - Tammy Thompson, Director of Cardiac Rehab; Pat Stovey, Clinical Exercise Physiologist; and Austin Neis, Exercise Specialist

Blood pressure is an important risk factor to manage and can go a long way in keeping your heart healthy throughout your life.

Keeping your blood pressure within the recommended guidelines is the key to optimal heart health.

What is blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the force of blood against your artery walls as it moves through your body. Blood pressure throughout the day will vary, normally rising and falling based on your activity throughout the day.

High blood pressure

Blood pressure that stays high for a long period of time can cause future health problems. High blood pressure that is left untreated or not properly controlled can lead to heart disease and stroke.

High blood pressure generally produces no warning signs or symptoms and many people never realize they have it, which is why it is often referred to as the “silent killer”. Heart disease and stroke are the nation’s leading causes of death. Statistics show that one in three American adults has high blood pressure - this is an estimated 67 million people in the United States!

Last November, the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association issued new guidelines that redefine high blood pressure. The blood pressure categories and guidelines are shown in the chart below.

New blood pressure guidelines chart

Preventing high blood pressure

There are several factors that we are unable to control and put us at higher risk for developing high blood pressure. Risk factors that we are unable to change include:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Race or ethnicity

When it comes to the prevention of high blood pressure, there are many lifestyle and behavior choices that we can choose to change. Risk factors that greatly impact blood pressure and we are able to change include:

American Heart Month and ways to reduce risk factors of high blood pressure

Remember that high blood pressure just doesn’t happen in adults, children are also at risk of developing high blood pressure.

Visiting your primary care provider for a yearly check-up is important. Be sure to talk with your provider about your blood pressure and ask your provider about what blood pressure range is acceptable and recommended for you.

Treating high blood pressure

High blood pressure can be treated many different ways and some of the time may include a medication to help reduce your blood pressure. If you are prescribed a medication, it is important to take this medication as prescribed and take it at the same time every day.

Lifestyle changes such as the ones mentioned above can be just as effective as taking medication, so talk with your healthcare provider about the best ways to reduce your risk for high blood pressure.

The Crossing Rivers Health cardiac rehabilitation department has qualified clinical exercise physiologists providing expertise in exercise programming for persons with a wide variety of health conditions.