A whopping 67 million Americans have high blood pressure. And those with high blood pressure are four times more likely to die from a stroke and three times more likely to die of heart disease.
Almost all of us know someone who has been touched by heart disease. Some of it runs in families and while nothing can be done about that, there are plenty of things you can do to reduce your risk of its harmful effects.
One of the biggest concerns – and easiest to correct — is high blood pressure. That’s why it’s important to know what your blood pressure is. A normal blood pressure reading is roughly 120/80 or less. A little higher falls into the prehypertension category and 140/90 or above is considered to be high blood pressure. If you’re consistently hitting those numbers or higher, you should discuss a plan of action with your doctor.
Start out with a baseline blood pressure check so you know what’s normal for you. Then check it on a regular basis – once a week, once a month, or daily if your pressure is routinely high. That’s the easy part. You can go to your doctor, local drugstore or buy your own blood pressure cuff to check it right at home. If it’s unusually high for you, check with your doctor right away. And if it’s in the danger zone, don’t fool around – call 911.
Other heart healthy tips:
Take a low-dose aspirin each day (if your doctor approves). This is an especially good idea for people who have a personal or family history of heart disease. Studies show that an aspirin a day reduces the risk of heart disease by 28% among those with a higher risk of heart problems.
Lower your sodium. Salt and sodium in the prepared foods we eat can raise your blood pressure levels, so try to limit the sodium you get each day. Be sure to read labels – some foods that you’d never suspect are often high in sodium!
Get enough exercise. You don’t have to be a gym rat to get the benefits of exercise. Going to the gym is great, of course, but even walking 30 minutes a day has benefits. Or if can’t free up that much time daily, try 45 minutes a day three times a week.
Don’t smoke. Smoking is not only bad for your lungs, but for your heart as well. The chemicals found in tobacco are known to damage your heart, blood vessels and blood cells – all of which can lead to coronary problems down the road.
Eat fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals that are good for you. An added bonus is that the more of these healthy food that you eat, the less “room” you’ll have left for the fattening foods you might have eaten otherwise!
Lower your cholesterol. High cholesterol is one of the leading causes of heart disease. The cholesterol forms in your arteries. Once it accumulates it can block those arteries, potentially causing heart attack or stroke. Eat foods high in fiber and low in fat. Have a blood test to find out your cholesterol level (docs like to see it under 200). If food and exercise isn’t enough to lower your number, your physician may put you on a cholesterol-lowering drug like simvastatin to get those levels in line.
Get enough sleep. Sleep is your body’s way to recharge and restore balance. Getting enough ZZZZs is important for feeling good and staying healthy.
Avoid stress. I know — easier said than done, right? But at least keep it in mind and avoid stress when possible. If you can’t avoid it entirely, try not to worry! When something is out of your hands, don’t waste time — or your health – by worrying. Yes, it’s only natural, but it interrupts sleep, wreaks havoc on your appetite and doesn’t solve anything. And then it makes you sick and tired.
If you’re a senior living in Texas, checking your blood pressure and watching your heart health could be even easier…if you lived at one of the Discovery Village Senior Living Communities in the area. Good health is a priority in their independent living, assisted living and memory care communities. An on-site medical director, round the clock nursing staff and other health professionals work together to form a Wellness Team. In fact, health screens and wellness checks are part of the daily life at Discovery Village. They’ll work hand in hand with you and your doctor to keep track of your heart health (and more).
Discovery Village at Castle Hills offers a variety of senior living programs to keep seniors healthy and active. Learn about our senior living options and amenities today when you contact us at 972.810.0200.