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Heart Health Month: Understanding Hypertension

doctor holding heartFebruary is American Heart Month — a time when all people can focus on their cardiovascular health. A leading risk factor for heart disease is hypertension, more commonly known as high blood pressure. Did you know that nearly 1 in 2 U.S. adults have hypertension, yet only 1 in 4 have it under control? Uncontrolled high blood pressure is too common and dangerous.

High blood pressure usually develops over time. It can result from unhealthy lifestyle choices, like a poor diet or not getting enough physical activity. Particular health conditions like diabetes and obesity may also increase hypertension risk. High blood pressure can also happen during pregnancy.

The first step in getting or staying heart healthy is to know your blood pressure so that you can prevent or manage hypertension. Measure your blood pressure regularly to help your health care team diagnose any health problems early. Because high blood pressure often has no symptoms, checking your blood pressure is the only way to know for sure if it’s too high. You can get your blood pressure checked:

  • At a healthcare facility by a member of your healthcare team
  • At a pharmacy that offers a digital blood pressure machine
  • At home with a blood pressure monitor that you can use yourself

A normal blood pressure level is less than 120/80 mmHg.

Prevention
If your blood pressure is in the normal range, that’s great. Prevent hypertension by making healthy choices.

  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Keep yourself at a healthy weight.
  • Be physically active.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Limit alcohol consumption.
  • Get adequate sleep.

Management
If you learn that you have high blood pressure, you should take steps to control your blood pressure to lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.

  • Make lifestyle changes (see above bullets)
  • Talk with your healthcare team.
  • Take medications as prescribed.
  • Manage diabetes if you’ve been diagnosed; if not, consider getting tested if you have symptoms of diabetes.

If you have questions or concerns about hypertension, consult your healthcare team. At Dimensions, we provide home health care in Gurnee, IL, and surrounding areas. We can assist our patients with blood pressure management and other skilled nursing care. For more information, give us a call.

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