Texas Outlook According to Dr. Mark H. Drazner of the University of Texas Southwestern MedicalCenter, hypertension remains amajor public health problem [inthe DFW area] associated with considerable morbidity and mortality...
Who’s most at risk? According to the Texas Behavioral Risk FactorSurveillance System, Center for Health Statistics, African American women age 45 andolder comprise the highest riskgroup for hypertension among Texans.
Prognosis If left untreated, hypertension can lead to heart disease,stroke, heart attack, congestiveheart failure, kidney disease, an overall reduced quality of life, and eventually death.
Treatment and Prevention The first step in treating and/or preventing hypertension is discovering whether or not you have it. The seventh report of the Joint NationalCommittee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure (JNC 7)recommends screening every 2 years in personswith blood pressure less than 120/80 mmHg andevery year with systolic blood pressure of 120 to139 mmHg or diastolic blood pressure of 80 to 89 mmHg.
Treatment and Prevention (cont’) The next step in the preventionand/or reversal of hypertension is effecting a change in lifestyle.
Eat a Healthy Diet The CDC, NIH, AHA and numerous other governmental and private agencies alike recommend a diet low in sodium consisting of whole naturalfoods, fresh fruits and vegetables, leancuts of meat, and whole fibrous grains. They also universally recommend consuming processed and fast foods on an occasional basis only.
Lose Weight/Maintain a Healthy Weight (BMI) Losing weight in addition to changing your diet can also lower your bloodpressure. The Body Mass Index (BMI) willtell you where you are currently with your weight, and where you should aim.To calculate your BMI, visit this website: http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/
Get Moving! The Surgeon General recommendsat least 30 minutes of moderate daily activity, however you can be moreactive even if you don’t have time to exercise. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk or bike instead of driving for short trips, take a short walk on your lunch break, get creative, you can do it!
Stop Unhealthy HabitsIf you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do, now is the optimal time to quit. In addition to high blood pressure; lung cancer, emphysema, COPD and a multitude of other preventable diseasesare a direct result of smoking. Don’t wait until it’s too late: See http://smokefree.gov/ for more information.
Stop Unhealthy Habits (cont’) Excessive alcohol use, including underage drinking and binge drinking (drinking 5 or more drinks during a single occasion for men or 4 or more drinks during a single occasion for women), can lead to increased risk of health problems such as hypertension, injuries, violence, liver diseases, and cancer. Limit consumption to one drink per day for women, two per day for men.
Medication Options If lifestyle changes do not help control blood pressure, or if yourblood pressure is excessively high,medications may be prescribed. Nomedication is without risk so makesure to talk with your doctor aboutany medications prescribed. Some common blood pressure medications are:
Final ThoughtsWhile there are some factors such as ageand ethnicity that you cannot control, the bulk of the responsibility is in your hands. You only have one body, you won’t be given another. Never take it for granted.“After all…it’s only your heart…” – Mr. P.