When was the last time you had your blood pressure checked? It was probably at your last doctor’s appointment…say, when was your last doctor’s appointment? High blood pressure can sneak up on you and untreated high blood pressure can lead to heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure. This is why routine checkups with your doctor are important for all adults, no matter your risk factors.
What are the symptoms of high blood pressure?
There is a reason that high blood pressure, or hypertension, has been nicknamed the “silent killer." This is because it often doesn’t cause symptoms. This means you could have high blood pressure right now and not even know it. About one in 3 people in the US have high blood pressure and don’t realize it, and as many as 1 in 4 US adults between the ages of 20 to 44 have hypertension.
The good news is that you can get your blood pressure checked by simply turning to your general doctor at least once a year for a comprehensive physical exam. Between doctor’s visits, you can also go to your local pharmacy where they might have a self-testing blood pressure station, or you can simply purchase a blood pressure cuff to use at home.
What causes high blood pressure?
Several factors can lead to high blood pressure over your lifetime. Remember, high blood pressure isn’t a disease that only older adults deal with. The statistics above prove that young adults also deal with this chronic health problem more often than doctors would like to see. Risk factors for high blood pressure include,
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Diet high in sodium
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Family history
- Being overweight or obese
- Thyroid disorders
- Sleep apnea
I have high blood pressure. What can I do?
If your blood pressure is elevated, this is a sign that it’s time to revamp your lifestyle to help lower your blood pressure naturally. Some ways to do this include,
- Quitting smoking
- Avoiding alcohol
- Losing excess weight if you are overweight or obese
- Getting regular exercise
- Eating a healthy, balanced diet that is low in sodium, sugar, and processed foods
- Having other chronic health conditions properly managed
- Finding effective ways to manage stress
Along with leading a healthier lifestyle, your doctor may also prescribe blood pressure medication such as anti-hypertensives to lower your blood pressure. There are a variety of medications on the market that can be used to lower your blood pressure, and your doctor will discuss these options with you and help you determine the best medication to help control your hypertension.
Whether you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure or you’re concerned about your risk factors, you must have a doctor that you can turn to for regular checkups, treatment, and care. If it’s been more than a year since your last physical, it’s time to call your physician.