According to the most recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), uncontrolled high blood pressure is a leading cause of heart disease and stroke and many people aren’t sure what to do if they do have high blood pressure.
Reports show that about 1 of 3 U.S. adults — or about 75 million people — have high blood pressure, and only about half (54%) of these people have their high blood pressure under control.
People with high blood pressure are 4 times more likely to die from a stroke and 3 times more likely to die from heart disease, compared to those with normal blood pressure. This common condition increases the risk for heart disease and stroke, two of the leading causes of death for Americans.
If you have high blood pressure, it’s up to you to manage and control your blood pressure and that’s why we wanted to share a few steps that can help you reach your goal of controlling your high blood pressure.
Here are some first steps to take to control your high blood pressure:
1. Work with your health care team
Blood pressure control should ideally be a team effort with you already working with your primary care physician, cardiologist and other health care professionals.
Next time you go in for a visit, make a list of questions you want to ask your team. Some of your questions could be — what should my blood pressure goals be — are they best achieved in incremental steps? What are some recommended ways to reach my goal? How high does it have to be for me to worry and call your office?
Mention what you’re already doing to work toward control. Be honest and realistic with yourself and your team about what lifestyle changes you’re ready to make and the ones you’re not quite ready for.
2. Take your medications faithfully
If prescribed, your medication is important to control and maintain your blood pressure no matter what else you’re doing.
If you are experiencing any side effects, talk to your doctor. If necessary, discuss other treatment options. You should never stop treatment on your own even if you believe something else is better for your blood pressure. Always consult with your doctor before reducing or stopping your medication to ensure your blood pressure doesn’t climb again.
Set up a system to remind you to take your medications regularly. For example, a pillbox for every day or use smartphone reminders. If your insurance provides mail order delivery, set it up. If this service is not available, schedule all your refills at the same pharmacy at the same time each month.
3. Regularly check your blood pressure
When you have high blood pressure, you need to get it checked more often than just during your annual physical. Some pharmacies have blood pressure machines that you can use. However, the best choice is to buy your own blood pressure machine to have at home.
4. Track your daily progress
Take your blood pressure each day when you wake up and write it down. If you find that your heart starts racing or you are under high stress during the day, take it and keep track for your next doctor’s visit. If you blood pressure spiked higher than your normal was it because of your diet, alcohol intake, physical activity during that day etc. Make sure to jot down potential reasons for the spikes.