Hypertension Control

Hypertension (elevated blood pressure) is the leading cause of cardiovascular
disease (CVD), the number one killer in the US. CVD causes decreased blood flow
to your organs, resulting in strokes, heart attacks, kidney failure, blindness,
claudication in the legs and dementia. Risk factor for CVD include not only
hypertension, but elevated cholesterol, diabetes, obesity and tobacco use.
Nearly one in five people in the US have hypertension, making it the number one
medical condition in our nation. Hypertension increases with age

What is hypertension?
Hypertension (HTN) is defined as a blood pressure >140/90 or >130/80 if you have
diabetes or other CVD risk factors. Actually, the optimal blood pressure is
<115/75. For every rise of 20 points systolic your CVD risk doubles. A blood
pressure of 120-139/80-89 is considered pre-hypertensive and should be treated
with lifestyle modification. Ideally, you should have your blood pressure
<120/80.

What does hypertension do to the body?
Think of your blood pressure as the internal pressure of your heart and major
arteries. If the pressure is high it causes wear and tear on the lining of your
arteries, resulting in inflammation and weakness. Aneurisms and strokes result
in weak areas giving out. If your heart has to try to pump into a system that is
high in pressure it will become weak, resulting in congestive heart failure.
Inflammation of your blood vessels attracts more plaque formation. In essence,
you want your blood vessels to remain wide open (not clogged with plaque) and
the pressure to remain low. This reduces the strain on your entire
cardiovascular system.

What can I do to lower by blood pressure?

  • Stop smoking. If you can’t do this on your own, ask our office for help.
    Tobacco causes both increased blood pressure and more plaque formation in
    your arteries.
  • If your Body Mass Index (BMI) is >27, then lose weight. Weight loss has
    a profound effect on blood pressure. Often a 10-15 pound weight loss can
    significantly reduce blood pressure.
  • Exercise – 30-60 minutes, 5 times/week.
  • Limit the sodium in your diet to < 2,000mg daily
  • Take a calcium supplement. Calcium may cause a drop of up to 6 points in
    BP.
  • Reduce stress in your life. See Stress Reduction Tips.
  • Get a digital blood pressure cuff (get an arm, not a wrist cuff) to
    monitor your pressure at home.
  • If your blood pressure remains elevated on at least 3 occasions, and you
    have attempted lifestyle modification for 6 months without getting your
    blood pressure to goal, you need to initiate medication to lower your blood
    pressure. There are numerous blood pressure medications which are safe and
    well tolerated. Medications are the most powerful tool we have to lower
    blood pressure and lower your risk for CVD. The risk of CVD due to
    hypertension is very significant, and far outweighs the potential side
    effect you might have from a medication.