February is American Heart Month, a month dedicated to bringing awareness to heart health and improving heart health. This year's emphasis is on hypertension (high blood pressure) which can make a person more likely to have a stroke or heart disease.
According to the CDC, almost half of Americans have high blood pressure which is defined as a blood pressure in excess of 130/80. Uncontrolled or undetected high blood pressure can cause a number of problems over time including heart attacks, strokes, heart failure, kidney disease, vision loss, sexual dysfunction, angina (chest pain), and peripheral artery disease (pain in extremities due to narrowing of arteries) (heart.org)
Awareness is the most important part of managing high blood pressure. High blood pressure is a "silent killer", meaning that people may go undiagnosed for a long period of time while damage is occurring. Your doctor should regularly check your blood pressure and it is easy to find machines in pharmacies and to purchase for home use to monitor your blood pressure. If you've been diagnosed with high blood pressure, it's even more crucial to monitor it regularly, so that you can make adjustments or consult your doctor as needed.
While there is no cure for hypertension, there are many guidelines to manage it. Your doctor make prescribe medication and a diet that is low in salt. Other lifestyle changes may include limiting alcohol, increasing exercise, managing stress, and quitting smoking.
In addition, obesity is greatly correlated to hypertension, and losing weight may help. Need motivation to begin that lifestyle change? Research has shown that losing as little as 10 pounds will make a difference in blood pressure. Each 10 pound loss makes a bigger difference. For greater amounts of weight loss, bariatric surgery has continued to be the most effective, long term solution for weight loss and maintenance. Bariatric surgery patients have, in many studies, greatly improved their blood pressure as well.
If you have questions about your heart health, please contact your doctor and make plans to discuss the lifestyle changes and medications needed to manage hypertension. If you have questions about whether you may be a candidate for bariatric surgery, please reach out and make an appointment for a consultation with our office. We will be happy to help you determine whether a bariatric procedure may be right for you.