The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week released a report on uncontrolled high blood pressure. The report concludes more than half of Americans with high blood pressure don’t have it under control. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), about 28 percent of Iowans have high blood pressure (typically a reading higher than 120/80). High blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke and also increases your risk of having a heart attack, heart failure, kidney disease, and other life-threatening illnesses.
“High blood pressure usually has no warnings or symptoms,” said IDPH Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk. “That’s why it’s important to have your blood pressure checked regularly. Just as important, however, is following your health care provider’s directions for keeping your blood pressure under control.” If medication is prescribed to treat high blood pressure, remember to take it as directed.
In addition, lifestyle changes can be just as important as taking medicines. You can reduce your risk of high blood pressure by eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, and being physically active. What you eat can have a significant effect on your blood pressure and heart health. When planning meals and snacks try to:
- Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Exercise regularly.
- Check the labels on your food and select those with the lowest sodium. Don’t add extra salt to your food. Too much sodium can increase your blood pressure.
- Limit foods with high amounts of saturated fat, transfat, and cholesterol. You can find this information on the Nutrition Facts label.
- Since home cooked food is typically healthier than food eaten outside the home, cook at home more often. Limit sauces, mixes, and "instant" products, including flavored rice and ready-made pasta.
Controlling high blood pressure is a key component of Million Hearts ™, a CDC initiative to prevent a million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. “Together, heart disease and stroke are Iowa’s leading killers,” said IDPH Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program Project Coordinator Terry Meek. “The Million Hearts campaign encourages individuals to commit to a healthier lifestyle to help prevent heart attacks and strokes.” You can take the pledge and learn more by visiting millionhearts.hhs.gov/. For more information on the IDPH Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention program, visit www.idph.state.ia.us/hpcdp/hdsp_home.asp.