February is American Heart Awareness Month

February is American Heart Awareness Month, a time for all people to focus on their cardiovascular health. 

Many factors contribute to heart disease. The CDC Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention is shining a light on hypertension (high blood pressure), a leading factor for heart disease and stroke.

What is high blood pressure?

A high blood pressure or hypertension diagnosis occurs when the force of blood pushing against your arteries is too high. Your blood pressure is represented as a higher number, or systolic, over a lower number, diastolic. The systolic is the pressure when your heart beats and the diastolic is the pressure between beats. 

A normal reading is 120/80 or lower. High blood pressure is diagnosed at 140/90 or higher. If you have a high reading at three or more consecutive appointments at Exemplar Care, you have hypertension. 

Prehypertension is a condition in which your blood pressure ranges from 120 to 139 over 80 to 89. Prehypertension usually progresses to hypertension if not managed with lifestyle changes to your diet, weight, smoking habits, and physical activity levels. 

What puts me at risk of high blood pressure?

As you age, your risk of developing high blood pressure increases. Certain other factors may increase the chance that you develop the condition. These include:

  • Family history
  • Overweight and obesity
  • High sodium diets and diets low in potassium or Vitamin D
  • Sedentary lifestyle

Those who smoke or drink excessive amounts of alcohol are also at a greater risk of hypertension.

What is the treatment for high blood pressure?

At Exemplar Care, the providers manage your high blood pressure with lifestyle recommendations, regular monitoring, and prescription medications if needed.

The direct primary care method the practice provides allows you to take advantage of customized treatments, close management with the providers, and constant communication to keep the blood pressure log. This is far more in-depth care than you might receive from a traditional primary care office.

The providers help you to make necessary lifestyle changes, such as weight loss, reduced alcohol consumption, and decreased sodium intake.  

What if hypertension goes unmanaged?

Unmanaged hypertension slowly does damage to your internal organs. Without monitoring and management, it contributes to:

  • Heart failure, heart disease, and stroke
  • Kidney failure
  • Trouble with memory and understanding
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Vision loss

A healthier heart can lead to a healthier life. 

#HeartMonth #HighBloodPressure #DirectPrimaryCare

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