Blood pressure is the force of your blood pushing against your artery walls. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is when the force is too high over a long period of time and may cause serious health problems. Typically a blood pressure reading of 140/90 or above means you have hypertension. 1 in 3 adults are affected and about 1 in 5 adults are unaware because most people with hypertension don’t have any symptoms. Many people feel fine and don’t think they need to get their blood pressure checked. Even if you feel normal, your health may be at risk. Hypertension greatly increases the risk for heart disease and stroke, the first and third leading causes of death in the United States.
Fortunately, high blood pressure is preventable and can be controlled through healthy actions such as, keeping track of your blood pressure readings, eating a healthy diet low in sodium and saturated fat, exercising regularly, quit smoking if you are a smoker, and limiting your alcohol intake.
Alcohol is an important factor to monitor because drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure to unhealthy levels. Having more than three drinks in one sitting temporarily increases your blood pressure, but repeated binge drinking can lead to long-term increases. Heavy drinkers who want to lower blood pressure should slowly reduce how much they drink over one to two weeks. Heavy drinkers who stop suddenly risk developing severe high blood pressure for several days. If you have high blood pressure, avoid alcohol or drink alcohol only in moderation. Moderate drinking is generally considered to be two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. A drink is one 12 oz. of beer, 4 oz. of wine or 1.5 oz. of 80-proof spirits. Moderation matters because a change in drinking habits could help you manage and/or prevent high blood pressure. If cutting back on alcohol is hard for you to do on your own, ask your healthcare provider about getting help.
Submitted by: Halle Brunzel, Burnett Medical Center Marketing Director
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