Hypertension is a common chronic disease and is one of the most common reasons for office visits, but lifestyle modifications can be very effective in treatment. The definition of hypertension is based on a range of Systolic and Diastolic blood pressures (top number and bottom number respectively).
Stages of Blood Pressure
The different stages of elevated blood pressure are defined by the American Heart Association.
Normal blood pressure is Systolic < 120 and Diastolic < 80 mm Hg.
Elevated blood pressure is Systolic 120-129 and Diastolic < 80 mm Hg.
Stage 1 hypertension is Systolic 130-139 or Diastolic 80-89 mm Hg.
Stage 2 hypertension is Systolic >140 or diastolic >90 mm Hg.
Monitoring Your Blood Pressure at Home
Home blood pressure monitoring is the initial strategy to confirm the diagnosis of hypertension in most patient To appropriately take a blood pressure reading at home you should be seated with both feet flat on the floor, have your arm supported (like on a table), be relaxed and have least 5 minutes of rest prior to the reading. Blood pressure readings should be taken at different times of the day, over multiple days and then averaged.
High blood pressure is a significant risk factor for other chronic medical conditions including heart disease and stroke. If your blood pressure is elevated, it’s important to see your primary care provider to be evaluated for organ damage. Your physician will also look for secondary causes of hypertension including medications, over-the-counter supplements, and NSAIDs (ibuprofen). Hypertension often coexists with other manageable risk factors for heart disease, such as elevated BMI, physical inactivity, and an unhealthy diet.
Treatment and Prevention
Lifestyle modifications are a great treatment for hypertension and to prevent related chronic diseases as well. The modifications include limiting salt intake to a maximum of 1500mg/day according to the American Heart Association. Blood pressure can be lowered by limiting alcohol consumption. Men should limit their alcohol intake to two drinks daily. Women should limit their alcohol intake to one drink daily. Another way to lower blood pressure is to eat a plant-based diet. A plant-based diet is rich in potassium, magnesium, calcium, protein, and fiber, and is low in saturated fat, and cholesterol.
Exercising at least 5 days a week can also decrease Systolic and Diastolic blood pressure in addition to the benefits of weight loss. Physicians recommend moderate aerobic exercise for 30 minutes, five days a week. Any activity that increases heart rate and respiratory rate for a sustained amount of time is classified as a moderate aerobic exercise. Another form of exercise that is beneficial to lowering blood pressure is resistance exercise. Physicians recommend resistance exercise two days a week. Resistance exercise doesn’t have to consist of heavyweights. Wall squats and planks are isometric resistance exercises which have often shown to be beneficial.
Hypertension is a serious condition, but with the help of your primary care team it is manageable. To schedule an appointment with one of our trusted providers call 541-426-7900.