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High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a dangerous condition that often has no symptoms at all. It can leave you at risk for heart disease, stroke and kidney failure.
Are you among the one in three Americans who has high blood pressure? Ask your doctor to check your pressure. It is normal if it is less than 120/80. If it is between 120/80 and 140/90, you have prehypertension and are at risk for high blood pressure. You have hypertension if it is 140/90 or higher.
There are ways to prevent and treat this silent killer. New research suggests you can start with four steps:
A Good Night's Sleep
People who get less than 7 or more than 10 hour of sleep a night appear to be at higher risk for high blood pressure. It is not just quantity, but also quality of sleep that matters. A study in the journal Hypertension found older men who spent the least time in deep sleep had the highest risk for hypertension. Talk with your doctor if you regularly have trouble sleeping or feel extremely tired during the day despite getting enough sleep at night.
Poor sleep and stress often go together, and studies show that both may influence your risk for hypertension. "To reduce stress, exercise regularly, talk with family and friends, and remember to laugh. Jokes and funny movies can make you feel good and protect you from the harmful effects of stress," said Dr. Timothy Strouse II, an internal medicine physician at Sharp Rees-Stealy Chula Vista.
Recent studies confirm that low-sodium diets reduce blood pressure. "I recommend reducing your sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams per day, about one teaspoon of table salt," Dr. Strouse advised. "To get started, eat a diet abundant in fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains. It is also important to eat low-fat dairy products and reduce your saturated and total fat intake." If you do drink alcohol, limit your consumption to two drinks daily for men and one drink daily for women. "And stop smoking," Dr. Strouse added.
Maintain Ideal Body Weight
Maintaining an ideal body weight and body mass index (BMI) between 19 and 25 is also important to reduce your blood pressure. "To help manage your weight and exercise regularly, about 30 to 45 minutes most days of the week," Dr. Strouse recommended.
Talk to your doctor to find out if you are at risk for high blood pressure or hypertension and what factors you can control to help reduce your risk.
How to Choose Sharp Rees-Stealy
Sharp Rees-Stealy accepts most health insurance plans. For help choosing the Sharp Rees-Stealy doctor who is right for you, please call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm, to speak to a physician referral nurse or search online.
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