Lowering blood pressure

Health Watch

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to sever health complications including heart disease and stroke.  But health experts say something as simple as healthy lifestyle changes can save lives. 

“You can have things like heart failure, heart attacks, stroke, kidney failure,” said Dr. Amit Gupta with Aurora BayCare Medical Center Family Medicine. “These are the most common complications of untreated high blood pressure.” 

High blood pressure, simply put, is when your heart has to work harder to push blood through arteries that are smaller than they should be for a variety of reasons.  Those include smoking, lack of exercise and excessive alcohol use.  Gupta also says some people are at higher risk for developing high blood pressure. 

“High blood pressure can happen to any age group and any race,” Gupta said. “Patients who are African American or Hispanics are at higher risk for having high blood pressure.” 

Gupta says the long-term health effects of hypertension can be fatal.  But they don’t have to be if the condition is caught early enough.

“Anybody after the age of 40 should be screened annually, irrespective of their race,” 

Health experts, like Aurora BayCare registered dietician Carrie Taicher, say diet and exercise play a big role and so does something many are dealing with right now – stress. 

“Yoga is an excellent way to reduce stress,” Taicher said. “Stress is something we all need to work on.”

Taicher says incorporating more exercise into your lifestyle doesn’t have to be a chore.  Pick something you love and mix it up a bit 

“Even a fun activity like dancing is a good way to relieve that stress,” Kaicher explains. “Really the best thing you can do is include a variety of exercises.” 

Taicher recommends the D.A.S.H diet – which stand for Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension.  

“Including fruits vegetables, whole grains, heart healthy fats, like olive oil or avocados,” Taicher said. “Reducing intake of things like red meats, sweets, sugar sweetened beverages and controlling that intake of salt. Salt is really a big notable one we think of when we think of high blood pressure.”

Gupta says one of the best things people can do to monitor their blood pressure is to keep up with preventative visits, even scheduling a virtual visit.  He says with all the added safety precautions in place right now at Aurora BayCare, patients can feel very safe going in to get the care they need. 

“Patients don’t need to wait in line, {at appointments} they can do virtual check-ins.” Gupta explained. “The waiting area is appropriately spaced, we have staggered appointments, so people are not crowded at one time. Everybody who comes in gets screened.” 

While lifestyle changes may be simple, that doesn’t necessarily make them easy. It’s takes the willingness and commitment to adopting a healthier way of living.

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