An estimated one in three Americans have hypertension (high blood pressure), and many aren’t even aware of their condition.
At HeartCare Associates of Connecticut, LLC, our skilled cardiovascular specialists offer comprehensive medical care to help you get your blood pressure under control. We also prioritize preventive services that can lower your risk for developing hypertension in the first place.
Why you have hypertension
Your blood pressure is a measurement of the force of your blood against the walls of your arteries. Prolonged pressure inside these blood vessels can ultimately lead to artery damage, heart disease, and even premature death.
There are many underlying factors linked to hypertension. In primary hypertension, your blood pressure increases gradually over time for no identifiable medical cause.
In secondary hypertension, a variety of lifestyle habits and medical conditions can contribute to elevated blood pressure, including:
- Poor diet
- Excess alcohol use
- Kidney disease
- Thyroid disorder
Stress can also play a role in secondary hypertension, especially if your daily stress levels are out of control.
When to get help for hypertension
Unfortunately, hypertension causes no symptoms in the early stages. This is why many people have high blood pressure and don’t know it.
Symptoms like dizziness and headaches can appear as the condition progresses. However, it’s likely that damage to your arteries and heart is already happening when you experience these symptoms.
Having routine blood pressure screenings is the only way to know how healthy your blood pressure is. You should have this noninvasive, painless test at your annual physical and regularly throughout the year, especially if you have a family history or other risk factors for hypertension.
Prevention tips for hypertension
Even if your current blood pressure levels are healthy, there are still things you should be doing to maintain good blood pressure.
Our heart experts at HeartCare Associates of Connecticut, LLC recommend starting with these four tips to prevent hypertension and its complications:
1. Follow a heart-healthy diet
A heart-healthy diet includes fresh, whole foods that are low in salt, sugars, and fat and high in fiber, such as beans, nuts, and fish. Try to eat plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits, and whole grains and limit your intake of packaged and processed foods.
You can also look for guidance from the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) plan sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).
You should also practice portion control and good nutrition, so you can lose excess pounds and maintain a healthy body weight in the long term.
2. Get up and move every day
A sedentary lifestyle can increase your risk for hypertension. Schedule time into your daily schedule to take a walk, work out at the gym, or stay engaged in other physical activities for at least 30 minutes.
Even if you’re limited in what you can do because of other medical issues, there are plenty of heart-healthy exercises you can do in a chair or your bed to maintain healthy blood pressure.
3. Quit smoking and other bad habits
While it can be hard to quit your addiction to nicotine, quitting smoking can greatly reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease. Our providers can recommend smoking cessation tools that help you kick the habit for good.
You should also be mindful of how much alcohol you drink, and don’t take any drugs that aren’t under the supervision of a medical professional.
4. Learn to manage stress in a healthy way
Stress may be impacting your health more than you realize. More science-backed information is coming out about the immense health benefits that mindful practices like meditation and breathwork have on the body.
Incorporating stress reduction strategies into your daily life can not only provide ongoing stress relief — you can also reap benefits like improved overall health and happiness.
If you need help managing hypertension, call the HeartCare Associates of Connecticut, LLC office near you or book an appointment online today.