Unfortunately, hypertension (high blood pressure) is a very common condition affecting one in four Americans. Over time, uncontrolled high blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease.
While normal blood pressure readings fall below 120/80, an individual is considered to have high blood pressure at or above 140/90. Because high blood pressure is often asymptomatic, it is extremely important to get it checked at least once a year, and even more if you have been previously diagnosed with the condition.
Certain lifestyle changes can help prevent hypertension and/or result in significantly lower blood pressure. Proper diet and exercise can go a long way in preventing and/or managing the condition. Many individuals with high blood pressure are put on the DASH diet by their physician, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.
The diet involves higher intake of fruits and vegetables, while majorly decreasing consumption of foods containing high amounts of sodium, saturated and total fats and cholesterol.
Aerobic exercise is also important in preventing and managing high blood pressure; even moderate exercise such as walking several times a week can help. A large portion of treating hypertension is through medication management.
When lifestyle changes alone are not lowering your blood pressure, it is extremely important to discuss medication options with your doctor. There are a variety of high blood pressure medications that can be prescribed and individualized to the patient’s needs and condition.
Cone Health has an exceptional network of primary care and specialty physicians and services dedicated to preventing and treating conditions such as high blood pressure to help reduce risk of possible life threatening disease such as heart disease, stroke and kidney disease.
Dr. Philip McGowen is a family medicine specialist with Cone Health Network, and is one of the exceptional primary care physicians at the new Oak Ridge location of LeBauer Healthcare. He is a 2001 graduate of University of Arkansas College of Medicine. He completed his residency in family medicine at Cone Health Family Practice Center in 2004.