Hypertension, also called high blood pressure, affects tens of millions of adults in the U.S. High blood pressure increases the risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.

Blood pressure is the pressure of your blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood from your heart to other parts of your body. If your blood pressure stays high for a long period of time, it can damage your heart and cause other health problems.

Blood pressure is measured using two numbers – the first number, systolic blood pressure, measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats. The second number, diastolic blood pressure, measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart is resting between beats. A normal blood pressure level is less than 120/80 mmHg. If your pressure is higher, there are many steps you can take to lower it.

Take Action

If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you should monitor your blood pressure regularly. Knowing your numbers can alert you to any changes and help you detect patterns. Tracking results over time with a blood pressure log can also reveal if the changes you’ve made are working.

Use this action plan to help you manage your blood pressure and be sure to talk to your doctor about your condition at your next visit.

The first step to treating high blood pressure is to speak to your doctor. There are several medications that he or she may prescribe you. Be sure to take the medicine as directed and follow up with your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.

About 60 percent of people with diabetes also have high blood pressure, and your health care provider may recommend getting tested for diabetes if you experience symptoms.

In addition to taking your medication, there are a number of lifestyle changes you can make to prevent and manage high blood pressure. This includes:

  • Losing weight and watching your waist line: Weight loss is one of the most effective ways to control blood pressure. Also, be mindful that carrying too much weight around the waist can put you at a greater risk for high blood pressure. For more information on weight loss, check out EmblemHealth.com/TKTK.
  • Being physically active: Exercising about 30 minutes for most days can help lower blood pressure.
  • Eat healthy and nutritious meals: Staying away from saturated fat and cholesterol can help lower blood pressure.
  • Reduce sodium intake.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol you consume.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Reduce caffeine consumption.
  • Reduce stress. Chronic stress can lead to higher blood pressure.
  • Get enough sleep.

Coping with high blood pressure can be easier with a network of supportive family and friends who can keep you accountable for any lifestyle changes you make and encourage you to take care of yourself.

Keep in mind that some blood pressure medications may come with possible side effects – let your doctor know if you have any concerns, as finding the right medication will help you to manage your blood pressure in a way that has the smallest impact on your day-to-day life.

It might be helpful to talk with a mental health professional or others who understand how you feel. Your doctor can recommend a mental health professional for you and may know of a local support group as well.

Continue talking to your health care provider to manage your high blood pressure and the conditions that may lead to it. Make sure you understand your blood pressure numbers and where you fall on the spectrum of hypertension as outlined by the American Heart Association.

Always talk with your doctor about your condition, any concerns you have, or changes to your health.


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