Don’t gamble with your blood pressure

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By The Staff

You may have missed it, but not long ago the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) released some startling news about America’s health. A new analysis shows that high blood pressure rates have increased substantially over the last 10 years.

According to this study, about 65 million adults in this country, or about a third of U.S. adults age 18 and older, suffer from hypertension.

Taking Control

While this trend is not unexpected – given the increase in obesity and an aging population – it is still alarming. Fortunately, you have the power to help reverse this trend.

Anyone, young or old, can develop high blood pressure at any stage of life. You may have had years of healthy readings and a diet that seems to keep you immune, and still, one day, your blood pressure can rise to an unhealthy level.

The good news – and there really is some – is that high blood pressure can often be prevented and almost always controlled. The steps required are simple, but that doesn’t mean they’re easy. The National Institutes of Health prescription has five basic steps.

1. Maintain a healthy weight. Blood pressure rises as body weight increases. Losing just 10 pounds and keeping them off can have a big effect.

2. Be physically active. A minimum of 30 minutes a day of moderate activity is the gold standard for preventing HBP and many other illnesses.

3. Follow a healthy eating plan – one that includes lots of fruits and vegetables, and is low in salt.

4. If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation. One drink a day for women, two drinks a day for men, is considered “safe.”

5. If you have high blood pressure and are prescribed medication, take it as directed. When lifestyle adjustments don’t do the trick, medications may.

Several types of drugs lower blood pressure, but not all of them work successfully for every patient. Be prepared to work with your doctor to find the drug and dosage that are best for you.

Cost-Effective Care

With so many people battling high blood pressure, you’d expect the medication bill to be enormous. Happily, there’s good news on this front. Diuretics – the least expensive high blood pressure (HBP) medicines – are the best first step in treating high blood pressure to prevent heart failure (HF).

Diuretics are better than calcium channel blockers at preventing heart failure, and better, at least in the short term, than ACE inhibitors.

High blood pressure forces the heart to pump harder to keep blood circulating. Over time, this added workload can result in HF. Heart failure is a serious condition and a leading cause of hospitalization in people age 65 and older.

More than 90 percent of people who develop heart failure first had high blood pressure. Be sure to ask your doctor if diuretics are worth a try.

This article is brought to you by Munroe Regional Medical Center. If you have health questions or need a physician referral, call the Munroe Regional Health Resource Line at 867-8181 or visit www.MunroeRegional.com.