Do you have high blood pressure? It might be easy to shake your head and shrug off the possibility, but the truth is many Americans have hypertension — also known as high blood pressure ― and don’t even know it.
Why don’t they know? There are many different factors, including changes to the definition of hypertension in recent years and the increased life expectancy in the United States as the baby boomer generation ages.
At Optimal Performance Medicine, we understand that blood pressure measurement and maintenance should be part of your primary care. Learn more about what hypertension is, what causes it, and how you can help lower your blood pressure.
What is high blood pressure and what causes It?
Your heart’s job is to pump blood through your arteries so it can get to the rest of your body. When your blood puts excess pressure on the arteries as it passes through, this is known as elevated blood pressure. Your blood pressure can increase if you are scared, working out, or in a stressful situation.
But if your blood pressure remains consistently above normal, you have a condition is known as high blood pressure or hypertension. And that might be from plaque, which narrows the arteries, or from stiffening of the artery walls.
What has changed about high blood pressure?
Part of the reason high blood pressure stats in the United States have risen is because the definition for high blood pressure has changed. In November 2017, according to the American Heart Association, the term high blood pressure was altered to include any individual with a reading of 130 over 80 or higher.
Before this, the guidelines stated that high blood pressure began at 140 over 90. With the change in guidelines, the percentage of men and women estimated to have high blood pressure has risen from 32% to 45%. If you fall between the old and new guidelines, you might not realize that the medical community now considers your blood pressure as unhealthy.
In addition, baby boomers are getting older with a higher life expectancy than any generation before them. This is exciting, but it also means conditions associated with age, such as high blood pressure, are increasing in our country.
How many people are suffering from high blood pressure?
According to the estimate from a 2016 study cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 75 million adults in the US suffered from high blood pressure. That’s as many as one in every three individuals. But by 2018, the American Heart Association estimated that 103 million adults in the US had high blood pressure, which is almost half of all American adults.
A study at McMaster University spearheaded by the Population Health Research Institute found that around half of the 154,000 adults they studied did not know they had high blood pressure. These people had no history of heart disease or stroke — two of the leading causes of death in the US, the risk of which is increased by high blood pressure.
What can I do about high blood pressure?
At Optimal Performance Medicine, Dr. Michael Skardasis wants you to understand that reducing your risk of high blood pressure is possible. If you’re at risk for high blood pressure, participate in activities like physical exercise for at least 30 minutes a day and make a habit of eating healthy foods. You should also:
- Have your blood pressure checked regularly by a medical professional
- Limit your use of alcohol
- Avoid smoking
- Maintain a healthy weight
If you already have high blood pressure, Dr. Skardasis can prescribe medicine to control it. You may already be on one of these medications, but if you’re hoping for an alternative route, Dr. Skardasis is known as the doctor who takes his patients off medicine. He can help you made lifestyle and other changes to manage your condition.
Hypertension is an issue you have to maintain, not one you can cure. As such, the best thing to do is to give your all to prevent it from taking hold. If you have high blood pressure already, maintenance is key to prevent stroke, heart disease, and other serious illness.
To learn more about your blood pressure and how to maintain healthy levels, call us today at Optimal Performance Medicine to schedule an appointment with Dr. Skardasis. Our practice is dedicated to safe, natural, and long-term maintenance of general health and wellness.