February is National Heart Month! The heart is our full-time job so we couldn’t be more excited to have an entire month dedicated to our cause. We’ll be shamelessly taking this opportunity to talk about the prevention and management of heart disease this entire month. If you have a particular topic you would like to hear about, let us know on our Facebook page and we’ll be sure to include it.
You’re likely to have heard that high blood pressure is one of the major risk factors for heart disease. But what exactly is blood pressure? Essentially, blood pressure is the force that pushes against the walls of the arteries as blood is being pumped by the heart. It is important in maintain the circulation of blood throughout our system.
Blood pressure has two components. Systolic pressure refers to the force in the arteries when your heart beats.You should try to keep your systolic pressure under 120. Diastolic pressure refers to pressure between heartbeats, when the heart is resting. Try to keep diastolic pressure under 80. So, to recap, the goal is to have a blood pressure under 120/80.
Your blood pressure doesn’t always stay constant. For example, when you’re working out, your heart is working a little harder and your blood pressure may increase. When you stop working out, your blood pressure will decrease.
When your heart is working too hard, your blood pressure increases. When this happens, the risk of heart disease significantly increases.
So how can you keep your blood pressure at a healthy rate?
- Watch your sodium intake. Try to stay under 1,500 mg a day. You can monitor your sodium intake by reading food labels. If a food label isn’t available, use an app with a food database such as Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker by MyFtinessPal.com.
- Maintain a healthy diet. You can use a body mass index calculator to find out if your weight is in a normal, healthy range. If you’re overweight, talk to your healthcare provider about ways to lower your weight.
- Manage your stress. A modest amount of stress is completely normal but if you’re constantly feeling overwhelmed, take some time out of your day to reduce your stress. Try starting your day with a deep breathing exercise. If you’re constantly sitting throughout the day, try to make a point in getting up from your chair every 30 minutes or hour.
- Take your medication exactly as prescribed. If you’ve been prescribed blood pressure medication by your healthcare provider, it’s important to stick to the exact regime your provider has set for you. Use an alarm clock to remember when to take your medication.
- Consider using an online tool such as Heart360. Heart 360 is an online managing system provided through the American Heart Association. The smart tools helps you keep track of factors important to your heart health such as blood pressure, diet, cholesterol, medication & more.
Do you have any questions you would like to ask our providers about blood pressure? Let us know on our Facebook page.