Today’s expert is Scott Schuldes, nurse practitioner, ThedaCare Physicians-Hilbert
Q: I’m young and just learned I have high blood pressure and am worried I now will spend the rest of my life on medication. What are some ways I can lower my blood pressure that don’t involve taking a pill?
A: Hypertension ??? the medical term for high blood pressure ??? is a common disease. In fact, it’s the most common reason patients over age 50 see a primary care provider.
High blood pressure is recognized as any reading above 140/90 in someone who does not have diabetes. If you have diabetes, that number should be less than 130/80. The optimal blood pressure reading for everyone is 120/80.
Hypertension is a silent disease; most people do not know they have it. Medication is often prescribed to help protect patients from a stroke or heart attack until they can make lifestyle changes that can help bring their blood pressure down.
Some steps you can take to lower your blood pressure include:
* Stop smoking.
* Lose weight.
* Reduce stress.
* Lower your salt intake.
* Get regular exercise.
* Consider following the DASH eating plan, which emphasizes fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy foods, whole grains and poultry.
If you are prescribed medication, be sure to take it, according to your provider’s recommendations.
In addition to the above steps, make sure you see your provider at least twice a year so he or she can check your blood pressure and see how you’re doing. Being proactive regarding your high blood pressure can help prevent more serious health problems down the road.