What Is Hypertension and What Can I Do About It?

Jun 10, 2022
What Is Hypertension and What Can I Do About It?
Almost half of Americans have hypertension. It places you at risk for heart disease, stroke, and other serious health complications. Learn what causes hypertension and what you can do to control and reduce it.

Do you know what your blood pressure reading is? If you don’t, now is a good time to find out. High blood pressure, or hypertension, can lead to two major causes of death in the U.S. — heart disease and stroke. You may feel fine, but you could have hypertension and not know it if you’re the type of person who avoids going to the doctor. 

That’s why annual physical exams are so important. One of the first things we do during an annual exam is to take your blood pressure. If it’s elevated, our board-certified physicians with Rural Health Corporation of Northeastern Pennsylvania talk with you about the risks and develop a plan with you to get it under control before your health is compromised. 

Causes of hypertension

Why is having hypertension so bad for your health? What is the function of blood pressure? Your heart pumps blood through your body. When the force of the pumping exerts too much pressure on your blood vessel walls, it damages your heart and your blood vessels. Over time, they grow weaker and weaker, which places you at risk for serious heart disease. 

Hypertension is classified two ways – primary and secondary.

Primary hypertension

If you have primary hypertension, it’s a result of a combination of lifestyle factors such as the following:

  • Aging
  • Stress
  • Smoking
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Being overweight or obese 

Because lifestyle factors figure so prominently in primary hypertension, in many cases, it’s preventable.

Secondary hypertension

If you have secondary hypertension, it’s a result of underlying illness. If you have kidney disease or thyroid disease, you’re at increased risk of developing hypertension.

Make lifestyle changes 

Is your life full of stress? Do you rush out the door and get breakfast at a fast food place? Perhaps you’re so busy you don’t take the time to get regular exercise. Are you easing your stress with high caloric junk food and sweets? 

Your Rural Health Corporation physician works closely with you on a management plan that helps you make important lifestyle changes. If you’ve packed on the pounds over the years, we work with you on changing your eating habits to support weight loss and your heart health. We can also suggest a daily exercise routine that boosts blood circulation and can lower your blood pressure levels.

Our team helps you develop a stress management plan. Exercise lowers stress. A variety of mindfulness exercises, such as breathing techniques, meditation, and yoga, can help you better manage your stress.

When diet and lifestyle modifications aren’t enough to manage your hypertension, you may need medications. It’s crucial that you take the medications as prescribed and embrace the diet and lifestyle changes that we recommend to keep your blood pressure levels healthy.

Ditch toxic habits

If you smoke, you know it’s an unhealthy habit that can take years off of your life. It can ultimately lead to heart disease, stroke, and other health problems. To help you quit smoking, our providers can recommend programs to assist you with giving up the habit.

Likewise, are you self-soothing by drinking too much alcohol? Limiting your alcohol consumption helps lower your blood pressure levels. Our providers offer guidance so you know how much is too much in order to prevent high blood pressure, liver damage, and other long-term complications.

Make a commitment to schedule regular blood pressure checks with our team. We also screen for hypertension-related cardiovascular conditions to identify concerns as early as possible. With the right treatment plan, you can manage your blood pressure and any hypertension side effects you experience.

Schedule a blood pressure screening today to lower your risk for hypertension complications. Call Rural Health Corporation of Northeastern Pennsylvania or book an appointment online.