Shhhh... do you hear that?
You may not because Hypertension (HTN) is termed the silent killer. 1 out of 5 Canadian adults have HTN; over 1/3 of these individuals are not aware because they do not feel sick. HTN is a serious medical condition that increases your risk for stroke, kidney failure, and heart disease.
Let's start with the basics; what is Blood Pressure (BP)? It is the pressure exerted by blood on artery walls when it circulates through your body delivering vital nutrients and oxygen to your organs. High BP, also known as HTN, simply means too much pressure in your blood vessels. Guidelines classify a BP of 140/90 or greater as HTN. Over time high BP causes damage to the arteries; they harden & lose elasticity, forcing the heart to work harder to pump blood, which may lead to heart disease.
It is important to know that anyone is at risk of developing HTN! This includes those with a family history, sedentary lifestyle, certain ethnicities and the aging process. The good news is: changes in lifestyle habits decrease risks of HTN.
- Physical Activity. 30-60 minutes of moderate intensity exercise such as, walking, jogging, biking, or swimming, 4-7 days/week
- Reduce Weight. The incidence of HTN is two times higher in overweight individuals
- Eat Healthy. A diet emphasized on fruits & vegetables, whole grain foods, high fibre, low fat dairy products, daily sodium intake of 2000mg or less, and reduced saturated fats
- Stress Management
- Reduce alcohol intake. Recommendations are: for men, a maximum of 14 drinks/week; for women 9 drinks/week
- Stop smoking
Any change is beneficial! Focus on one change at a time and set realistic goals to reduce your cardiovascular risks. Remember: small changes equal big success!
Make regular appointments with your doctor or nurse to monitor your BP. If lifestyle changes/good health habits are not enough, medications will be part of lifelong management of HTN.
To learn more about Hypertension, visit www.hypertension.ca
Submitted by Danielle Longtin, a Registered Nurse working with Dr. Scholtz at Meiring & Kriel Family Practice in Medicine Hat, AB.