Heart Disease and High Blood Pressure

Heart Healthy Living

Whether you’re a man or a woman, heart disease is the leading cause of disability and death in the United States. Take control of your health and either prevent heart disease or manage your condition.

There are heart disease risk factors that you CANNOT change:
• Family History – An early family history of heart disease, including heart attacks or strokes, puts you at greater risk.
• Age – Women are at greater risk over the age of 55, while men are at greater risk over the age of 45.

There are heart disease risk factors that you CAN change or better manage:
• Diabetes – Keep blood sugar levels at the recommended target range.
• Smoking – The rewards for stopping smoking are enormous.
• Stress – Learn to manage it.
• High Blood Pressure – Take medications as prescribed. Reduce salt intake.
• High Cholesterol – Take medications as prescribed. Reduce fat in your diet.
• Overweight – Reduce the amount of calories (sugar and fat) in your diet.
• Eat a well-balanced and varied diet – Low in salt, fat and cholesterol.
• Inactive lifestyle – If at all possible, engage in exercise.

High Blood Pressure

Blood is carried from the heart to all parts of your body in vessels called arteries. Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushing against the walls of the arteries.

Normal blood pressure readings should be below 120/80.The top number (systolic) shows the pressure when the heart beats. The lower number (diastolic) measures pressure at rest between heartbeats, when the heart refills with blood.

High blood pressure or Hypertension is when the readings are higher than 140/90. When blood pressure is high, the heart has to work harder which may result in heart diseases like stroke, heart attack, heart failure and kidney damage.

What can you do?
In addition to taking medications prescribed by your doctor, simple life style changes may help.

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Exercise daily
  • Eat foods low in salt
  • Don’t smoke
  • Limit alcohol
  • Get sufficient sleep

Some over-the-counter cold and flu medicines contain decongestants that can cause blood pressure to rise. Certain medications such as NSAID pain relievers, steroids, diet pills and some antidepressants can affect your blood pressure.

Talk to your doctor about medications and supplements you take that may affect your blood pressure.

Take action!
Lighthouse Guild provides a full spectrum of vision and healthcare services helping people who are blind or visually impaired. We offer a Diabetes Clinic where you can learn to manage your diabetes and we have Behavioral Health Services where you can get help with smoking cessation, stress reduction and managing dietary changes. If you are a member of GuildNet, discuss with your Care Manager the services available to you in the community.