Up to 25% of strokes occur in individuals under the age of 45, and that number is on the rise. Cardiovascular diseases are the world’s leading cause of death, causing one in every three deaths, with 85% of those being due to heart attack and stroke.
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a leading risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, including stroke. High blood pressure causes more than half of all cardiovascular deaths – an estimated 10 million deaths per year globally. This is nearly as many deaths each year as all infectious diseases combined! However, deaths due to hypertension are largely preventable.
Treating high blood pressure is simple and affordable. One medication daily is usually enough to manage high blood pressure. Many of these medications are available as generics, which are easier on the pocketbook than brand name medications. Tracking your blood pressure is also a quick and easy step for controlling high blood pressure. You could simply check your blood pressure at a kiosk in a local department store or pharmacy.
Purchasing a home blood pressure device is an affordable option for many people. Feel free to bring your home blood pressure monitor with you to your doctor visit if you want to check its accuracy or need help learning how to use it.
Be sure to jot the numbers down on your calendar or make a note in your phone to show your primary care provider. Many insurance plans cover one free wellness visit a year, which is an excellent opportunity to make sure your blood pressure is staying within an ideal range.
Basic lifestyle changes can also help lower high blood pressure and may help decrease or eliminate the need for medications. Try adding one simple change to your routine each month and see how it improves both your blood pressure and your overall health. The American Heart Association’s recommendations for controlling high blood pressure include:
Don’t smoke and avoid secondhand smoke.
Reach and maintain a healthy weight.
Eat a healthy diet low in sodium and saturated and trans fat.
Limit sweets and red and processed meats.
Eat fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish and nuts. Include foods rich in potassium.
Be physically active. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week.
Limit alcohol to no more than two drinks a day if you’re a man or one drink a day if you’re a woman.
Take all medicines as prescribed to control your blood pressure.
Know what your blood pressure should be and try to keep it at that level.