Given that 1 in 3 Americans suffers from high blood pressure (hypertension), there is a good chance you or a family member is dealing with this condition, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. While many patients have to resort to medications, changes in diet and regular exercise can go a long way to controlling, or improving, high blood pressure. Here are some online resources to help you or your family members help control high blood pressure:
(NOTE: only your doctor or care provider can give you specific advice about managing your high blood pressure)
High Blood Pressure Online Guide from ACC This link is a thorough, easy to understand overview which covers the causes, correct measurement, treatments, and consequences of hypertension. It is one of the most thorough guides available, and is unbiased and full of excellent advice.
New Guidelines (see article here) were released recently that cover the treatment of hypertension. One of the main new recommendations is that for patients older than 60, a target of systolic blood pressure (the high number) less than 150 is adequate, rather than 140. Recent research has shown that older patients who take blood pressure medication are at higher risk of falls, possibly from excess lowering of blood pressure.
One of the best ways to manage your high blood pressure is to monitor your reading at home – and this video demonstrates the proper way to take your blood pressure at home. Also of note, new research just announced this week shows that it is important to check your blood pressure in both arms, because a difference in readings could indicate circulatory disease (and mask the true reading – but note that in some people a difference can be normal).
The optimal diet for patients who suffer from hypertension is called the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension). The guide above has an excellent overview of the DASH diet, including this chart:
Remember, high blood pressure is a chronic condition, so take a long term approach to controlling it – the goal is preventing complications, not ‘achieving’ a number!