While 34% of adults have hypertension, or high blood pressure, most of them aren’t aware of it until they visit Dr. Chaula Patel in Bronx, New York, for a regular checkup. Catching hypertension as early as possible is vital for preventing heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease, so don’t wait to contact Dr. Patel for routine blood pressure screening.
Blood pressure refers to the force of blood as it pushes against blood vessel walls. When blood pressure is too high, it damages the vessels, creating rough spots where cholesterol gets stuck. Over time, cholesterol accumulates, the artery hardens, and blood flow is blocked. When that happens, the heart has to work harder to push blood through the vessel and you’re at risk for a heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease.
There’s another reason why high blood pressure is so dangerous — it doesn’t have symptoms. That means if your blood vessels are being damaged, you won’t know unless you get a regular checkup or until the vessel gets so blocked that it causes a serious problem.
High blood pressure is sometimes caused by consuming too much salt. When there’s excessive salt in your body, the kidneys hold onto water, and extra water raises your blood pressure. Being overweight also makes the heart work harder and causes high blood pressure.
Drinking too much alcohol, taking drugs, and certain medications — prescription medications and some over-the-counter cold and pain medications — may raise blood pressure. Some adults have an underlying health condition that causes high blood pressure, such as kidney disease, diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, thyroid gland disorders, and adrenal gland disorders.
Dr. Patel begins with a physical exam so she has a complete picture of your overall health. Many adults can get blood pressure back to normal by changing their diet, getting more exercise, and losing weight. Each person’s plan is individualized, but may include one or more of the following treatments:
Healthy diet: Dietary changes to lower blood pressure include cutting down on foods that are high in salt, eating more foods that are high in potassium, and increasing fiber intake to help lower cholesterol.
Weight loss: Blood pressure goes down as you lose weight. Dr. Patel offers a comprehensive weight management program for patients who need it.
Increasing physical activity: Exercise helps lower blood pressure, relieves stress that can raise blood pressure, and is important for maintaining a healthy weight.
Antihypertensive medications: Many medications are available to lower blood pressure if lifestyle changes don’t help.