Preventing High Blood Pressure: Get the Facts
According to the American Heart Association, more than 40% of non-Hispanic, African-American men and women have high blood pressure. For African-Americans, high blood pressure also develops earlier in life and is usually more severe.
For Yinka Afolabi-Brown, MD, this means that understanding high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is particularly important.
“Very simply, high blood pressure is when the force that the blood exerts on blood vessels in your body increases. This condition is very common in the United States, and is becoming more common all the time,” says Dr. Brown.
In 2017, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology lowered the blood pressure threshold considered “healthy” to 120/80 or below. In addition, the definition of high blood pressure is now 130/80.
Dr. Brown says patients with the higher numbers will be guided towards lowering their blood pressure by changes in lifestyle. Patients who have had a heart attack, stroke, or diabetes, or who have a history of high blood pressure in their family, may also be prescribed medication to manage high blood pressure.
If you want to make changes to prevent high blood pressure, Dr. Brown recommends you take the following steps:
- Do brisk exercise that increases the heart rate 30 minutes five times a week, or 45 minutes three times a week.
- Limit salt intake to less than two grams a day. Remember, most of the salt you eat comes from packaged, prepared and restaurant foods — not the salt shaker.
- Keep weight down by cutting down portion sizes, making smart choices and setting realistic goals for weight loss.
- Stop smoking.
- Limit alcohol to one drink a day.
- Strive to get eight hours of sleep a night. Sleep apnea sufferers should seek medical help because breathing pauses increase blood pressure.
- Practice meditation, yoga or other stress-reducing activities.
If you would like to make an appointment with Dr. Brown, please call 215-456-3930 or book online.