May is National Blood Pressure Awareness Month. Ensuring a healthy blood pressure is essential to overall health, and a high, uncontrolled blood pressure puts you at a higher risk for stroke, heart disease, heart attack, and kidney failure.
We spoke with GHC-SCW clinical pharmacists to better understand the importance of managing your blood pressure!
What is the importance of checking your blood pressure?
Checking your blood pressure is the only way to know if you have high blood pressure or hypertension. Usually, people do not feel any different when their blood pressure is high.
Can I check my blood pressure at home?
Checking blood pressure at home is a great idea! The American Heart Association recommends choosing a blood pressure monitor that inflates automatically and has an upper arm cuff. Here is a list of blood pressure monitors that have been validated, meaning they are clinically accurate. It is essential to closely follow the instructions included with your blood pressure monitor.
GHC pharmacies carry validated blood pressure monitors for sale, and GHC clinical pharmacists have blood pressure monitors to loan to patients.
What is a healthy blood pressure level?
Healthy blood pressure is systolic (upper number) less than 120 and diastolic (lower number) less than 80.
What can I do to improve my blood pressure?
- If you are overweight, losing weight can decrease your blood pressure.
- Regular physical activity like walking, jogging, and swimming. Anything that gets your heart rate up! The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of exercise per week.
- DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet:
- Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and low-fat dairy.
- Minimize fatty meats, full-fat dairy, oils that are solid at room temperature, high-sugar foods and drinks
- Limit sodium (salt) in diet.
- Don’t add salt to your food (use herbs and spices instead!)
- Decrease processed foods (full of sodium)
- Read food labels and ask for nutritional information at restaurants to see how much sodium is in foods before you purchase.
- Limit alcohol to 2 drinks per day for men or one drink per day for women. Drinking more than these amounts can increase blood pressure.
- Quit smoking. If you would like assistance, GHC can help with counseling or medication.
- Limit caffeine to 200mg per day, about two eight-ounce cups of coffee.
What is the risk of high blood pressure?
If high blood pressure goes untreated, it can cause damage to your organs and blood vessels over time. This can lead to heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney disease, vision loss, sexual dysfunction, angina, and peripheral artery disease.
If you have any questions about your blood pressure or any questions about managing your blood pressure, reach out to GHC-SCW clinical pharmacists,