The lower the better, and we don’t mean golf! We’re talking about blood pressure.
May is National High Blood Pressure Month, which focuses on educating the public about high blood pressure (hypertension) and its dangers. Elevated blood pressure (greater than 140 for the top number, or 90 for the bottom number) is a major risk factor for some of the most common and serious health problems: strokes, heart attacks, and heart and kidney failure, to name a few. And it’s still as “silent” a killer as it was decades ago, when the term was first coined. If you aren’t careful, the first inkling that you’ve got a problem may be waking up in the Emergency Room.
1) Visit Your Primary Care Physician
First and foremost, a visit to your doctor or primary care physician is of the utmost importance. Not all blood pressure elevations are hypertension – they may be due stress or temporary illness – and your doctor can help determine if you have a true pattern of elevation. (If you do not see your doctor on a regular basis, you can stop by your local urgent care center to find out exactly what you blood pressure is, or your local supermarket or pharmacy to purchase your own BP measuring device and track your own numbers.)
2) Track Your Eating Habits
If your pressure is elevated, track your eating habits. An elevation is often related to unmindful food intake, in particular consuming salt (sodium). The more sodium in your food or food seasonings, the more your blood pressure can rise: sodium is the first thing you want to cut from your diet. Instead of salt-rich soups, soy marinated Asian foods, or deli meats, try filling your diet with more fresh fruits and vegetables. These foods will not only help your blood pressure, but they will naturally make you feel more energized (for more information, look up the DASH diet, which has been proven to reduce blood pressure to a similar degree to medication).
3) Monitor Stress Levels
Watch your stress levels – everyone has some, but not “letting it go” can raise your numbers dramatically. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of your everyday life, it is essential to make healthy lifestyle choices to neutralize whatever stress you encounter. Exercising helps, but so does deliberately choosing to relax and recover. Get your 7+ hours of sleep every night. Set aside protected quiet time to unwind, meditate, or pray. Think twice about the cost of stresses that literally “raise your blood pressure,” and consider taking yourself out of those situations.
When contemplating your health, it is essential to recognize the importance of your blood pressure level and make decisions accordingly. Stop by our offices, we have caring doctors that would love to help you at whichever location is closest to you: Woodbridge Walk-In in Irvine, Fountain Valley Urgent Care, or Costa Mesa Urgent Care. Be sure to schedule an appointment to save time!