February is American Heart Month. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is encouraging Americans to know their blood pressure, and if it’s high, they want you to make control your goal. Uncontrolled high blood pressure is a leading cause of heart disease and stroke. More than 67 million Americans have high blood pressure, according to the CDC.
People with high blood pressure are four times more likely to die from a stroke and three times more likely to die from heart disease, compared to those with normal blood pressure. Take these steps to help get high blood pressure under control:
Ask your doctor what your blood pressure should be. Set a goal to lower your pressure with your doctor and talk about how you can reach your goal. Track your blood pressure over time.
Take your blood pressure medicine as directed. Set a timer on your phone to remember to take your medicine at the same time each day. If you are having trouble taking your medicines on time or paying for your medicines, or if there are side effects, contact your doctor.
Quit smoking, and if you don’t smoke, don’t start. You can find tips and resources at CDC’s Smoking and Tobacco website.
Reduce sodium intake. Most Americans consume too much sodium, which can raise blood pressure. Read about ways to reduce your sodium and visit the Million Hearts Healthy Eating & Lifestyle Resource Center for heart-healthy, lower-sodium recipes, meal plans and helpful articles.
Here’s a free checklist of questions, courtesy of Brightstar Care, to ask your doctor about blood pressure that readers can print out and bring to their next appointment.