High blood pressure is often referred to as the “silent killer” because there are very few signs of the problem until it becomes a crisis. If you are a caregiver it is wise to practice health behaviors that reduce the likelihood of developing high blood pressure.
It is important to ensure that the person you care for has a blood pressure screening a few times each year. The doctor can check it at an annual physical. It can be checked at one of the many health fairs throughout the year and most of our pharmacies and grocery stores have blood pressure monitoring machines. If the screening indicates the numbers are high get to the doctor. One high reading doesn’t necessarily mean high blood pressure, but it should be checked out. 120/60 is considered a normal pressure. 140/90 is considered a high blood pressure.
In addition to knowing the numbers, it’s important to know the risk factors that predispose people to high blood pressure. There are some factors you can’t control but you need to be aware that they are risk factors and be mindful of the risks, advancing age, family history and ethnicity. African-Americans have a significantly higher risk. Then there are risks you can control; smoking, obesity, inactivity and drinking. In addition to obesity, other diet-related issues are high salt-diets and fatty diets. Both contribute to heart disease and high blood pressure. Following a heart healthy diet and reading food labels for sodium content can reduce risk factors.
Your best friend in prevention high blood pressure is regular exercise. Thirty minutes of exercise per day can make a significant difference. It doesn’t have to be accomplished in one period. You can break it up throughout the day into 10 minute segments if the person you care for cannot tolerate 30 minutes in one session. Try walking, riding a bike or dancing, just get moving!
Lastly, and most importantly, if your loved one or yourself, has already been diagnosed with high blood pressure, take your medications as prescribed, even when you’re feeling well and your numbers are o.k. They’re o.k. because of the medication. Sometimes you can reduce your numbers through diet and exercise and you can stop taking medication, but NEVER without consulting with the doctor.
The Agency on Aging of South Central Connecticut provided this information.