- About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths!
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. More than half of the deaths due to heart disease in 2009 were in men.
- Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the most common type of heart disease, killing over 370,000 people annually.
- Every year about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack. Of these, 525,000 are a first heart attack and 210,000 happen in people who have already had a heart attack.
Hypertension or high blood pressure is the single biggest risk factor for stroke. It also plays a significant role in heart attacks. It can be prevented and successfully treated but only if you have it diagnosed and stick to your recommended management plan.
Blood pressure is a measurement of the force exerted against the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps blood to your body. Hypertension is the term used to describe high blood pressure. I explain hypertension like putting too much oil in your car – it can be worse than being too low. I know this as I had an old truck as a teen, that leaked oil and thought it would be a good idea to put in more oil in, after all it was leaking. Anyway I blew that engine. Too much blood pressure can overwhelm our organs – our brain, our heart in a similar way.
Hypertension or high blood pressure generally develops over many years, and it affects nearly EVERYONE…. eventually. I say its like greying of the hair or wrinkling of our skin it is going to happen if we live long enough. Fortunately, high blood pressure can be easily detected. Blood pressure is taken as part of a routine doctor's appointment. And once you know you have high blood pressure, you can work with your doctor to control it.
High blood pressure is considered a “silent killer” as most people with high blood pressure have no signs or symptoms, even if blood pressure readings reach dangerously high levels --- you just “may not feel it.”
A few people with high blood pressure may have headaches, nosebleeds, or shortness of breath. Often the signs and symptoms don't occur until high blood pressure has reached a severe or life-threatening stage and these are not specific to blood pressure issues.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to heart attacks, strokes, aneurysms, heart failure, kidney problems, vision loss, erection dysfunction and difficulty with memory and understanding.
If you have high blood pressure, lifestyle habits are so important! Developing a healthy lifestyle can not only help treat high blood pressure it can prevent high blood pressure. Those that are unable to achieve goals with solely lifestyle changes may have to take medication to help lower the blood pressure and the risks that can come with having high blood pressure – like heart attacks and strokes. Even if you need drugs, you still must make the lifestyle changes. Doing so will help your medications work better, reduce how much of them you need and you get many other benefits of making healthy lifestyle changes - from mood to bone health.
For an overall eating plan, I recommend the DASH “diet” (I despise the term “diet” as its so temporary I want people to make forever, healthy changes!). DASH, which stands for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension” has ranked one of the healthiest eating plans for 6 years in a row. Originally designed to lower blood pressure, the DASH diet is also very effective for weight loss, lowering cholesterol, and managing or preventing diabetes!
The DASH eating plan requires no special foods and instead provides daily and weekly nutritional goals. This plan recommends eating vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. It includes eating fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and vegetable oils as well as limiting foods that are high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, and tropical oils such as coconut and sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets.
Here are two links that connect you with free and complete PDF booklets published by the National Institute of Health the first is entitled “Your Guide to Lowering Blood Pressure.” This is a great guide for those newly diagnosis with high blood pressure or those with high blood pressure wanting to know more – particularly about making changes to diet and exercise. It is a comprehensive summary on high blood pressure and why high blood pressure is important to treat, it offers lifestyle solutions and short list of medication used for blood pressure control. The second booklet link is entitled “Lowering your Blood Pressure with DASH: DASH Eating Plan.” This focuses more on the eating plan itself.
As in my office, these booklet stresses the importance of diet and exercise to treat and prevent high blood pressure and the complication associated with high blood pressure. I ask that my patients read one or both when they have high blood pressure or if they have diabetes or wish to loose weight or in general would like to modify their eating habits or reduce risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes.
One recent change that is not up to date with these booklets is the new FDA changes made to the Nutrition Facts Label. Check out my Facebook post for and updated article on how to interpret and what these changes are.
A healthy lifestyle is the foundation of our longevity and lowering modifiable risk factors. Believe in your self, take action and just do it!
This information is provided by Dr. John E. Thomas with On Point Primary Care clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your primary care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. Feel free to contact Dr. Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions or would like further information about his practice or to schedule your free consultation to see if On Point Primary Care is right for you and your family.