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American Heart Month shines light on high blood pressure

Posted on 02/11/2021
Doctor checks the blood pressure of a young female patient

Weld County — February is American Heart Month, a time when all people can focus on their cardiovascular health. For this year’s campaign, the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention is shining a light on hypertension (HTN), which is defined as a blood pressure at or above 130/80 mm Hg.

Having HTN puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke, which are leading causes of death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2019, nearly half a million deaths in the United States included HTN as a primary or contributing cause. In Weld County, 32% of adult residents reported they had been told by a health care provider that they had high blood pressure. Only 1 in 4 adults (24%) with HTN have their condition under control. High blood pressure costs the United States about $130 billion each year.

Lifestyle plays an important role in treating your high blood pressure. If you successfully control your blood pressure with a healthy lifestyle, you may avoid, delay, or reduce the need for medication. Here are a few additional lifestyle changes you can make to lower your blood pressure and keep it down:

  1. Lose extra pounds and watch your waistline: Weight loss is one of the most effective lifestyle changes for controlling blood pressure. Losing even a small amount of weight if you’re overweight or obese can help reduce your blood pressure.
  2. Exercise regularly: Regular physical activity — 150 minutes a week, or about 30 minutes most days of the week — can lower your blood pressure.
  3. Eat a healthy diet: Eating a diet that is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products can lower your blood pressure.
  4. Reduce sodium in your diet: A low sodium intake — 1,500 mg a day or less — is ideal for most adults.
  5. Limit the amount of alcohol you drink: No more than 1 drink per day for women and 2 per day for men.
  6. Quit smoking: Each cigarette you smoke increases your blood pressure for many minutes after you finish.
  7. Reduce stress: Chronic stress may contribute to high blood pressure.