February is American Heart Month, so it is a great time to schedule cardiology checks, address any potential heart related issues, or more proactive towards your heart health. Based on our aggregate data, stress is the biggest risk amongst our population, so this is a particularly important to be proactive as that can contribute to high blood pressure. Blood pressure, when left uncontrolled, can lead to heart attacks or strokes and many individuals do not realize that they have high blood pressure. In the event of having extreme hypertensive levels, typically over that of 180/110, symptoms could include severe headaches, severe anxiety, shortness of breath, and nosebleeds (Heart.org). Please keep in mind that these symptoms may not signify high blood pressure, but it is best to be vigilant and monitor any abnormal symptoms and report them to your doctor.
There are several risk factors that can contribute to your risk of high blood pressure. African Americans, women – usually over the after of 65, and often children can be at risk. Other risk factors include:
- Having a family history
- Gender related patterns
- Lack of physical activity
- Poor diet/high salt content
- Drinking heavy amounts of alcohol
- Sleep apnea
You can help reduce your risk of high blood pressure by eating a balanced diet (reduced in salt), participating in regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, managing stress, quit smoking, and limiting alcohol use. (Heart.org). There are many ways that you can use the Designed Wellness resources to help keep your blood pressure in check as well. Login to your account to track your physical activities or engage in telephonic health coaching and other resources that can help you set and maintain your health goals.
If you are doing these preventive measures and still find that it is hard to keep your blood pressure under control, seek the help of your primary care physician for other options that will work with your lifestyle and discuss if medications are needed to keep your blood pressure in a normal range. If you have no history of heart disease, or no outstanding health conditions you are being treated for, many doctors recommend yearly checks. However, discuss with your provider if there is any reason requiring you to meet for follow-ups more frequently, such as high blood pressure checks, medications, or you have had a heart attack in the past. One great way to check on your blood pressure each year is to participate in the free Designed Wellness biometric screening. We highly recommend you take advantage of this and any opportunity to check on your measurements and ensure you are proactive about your heart health.