Take Care of Your Heart: Keep Your Blood Pressure Under Control
February marks American Heart Month. This is the perfect time to remind you of one of the best ways to care for your own heart – have your blood pressure checked on a regular basis and keep it under control.
What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure measures how hard your heart has to work to pump blood through your body. If your arteries become narrow, your heart will have to work harder to get blood to move through your body. This causes high blood pressure. One in three Americans has high blood pressure.
What are the risks from high blood pressure?
If high blood pressure continues for a long time, the heart and arteries may not work as well as they should. This can increase your chance of heart attack and stroke. It can also affect other parts of your body including the kidneys, eyes and brain.
The “silent killer”
High blood pressure is known as the “silent killer” because you may have it, but not feel that anything is wrong. You may not even know that your high blood pressure is damaging your heart and health.
How can you keep your blood pressure in control?
Talk to your doctor to find out if your blood pressure is under control. If it’s not, your doctor can work with you to decide which steps listed below are right for you.
- See your doctor on a regular basis to have your blood pressure checked. Listen to your doctor’s advice on how to keep your blood pressure in a healthy range.
- Take your medicines exactly as your doctor ordered.
- Watch your weight. Eat a healthy diet that is low in salt, total fat, saturated fat (a kind of fat in butter, meat, eggs and certain oils) and cholesterol. Eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Avoid alcohol or drink only in moderation.
- Get regular exercise. Going for a walk can help. Ask your doctor which exercises are right for you.
- Do not smoke. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor and join our Tobacco-Free PATH smoking cessation program.
- Check your blood pressure at home or at your local pharmacy in between visits to your doctor. Write it down and show it to your doctor at your next office visit.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
American Heart Association