Did you know that over 30% of adults (over the age of 20) have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension?* Did you also know that high blood pressure is a leading cause of heart disease, stroke and kidney disease? The good news is that high blood pressure can be prevented if you educate yourself and take the recommended course of action from your physician.
What is High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)?
Blood pressure is the amount of the blood force against the arterial walls. The upper number is the pressure when the heart is contracting and the lower number is when the heart is at rest.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is when one or both numbers are elevated. Normally it should be under 140/90 mmHg, and anything above this is considered elevated.
What are the symptoms of High Blood Pressure?
Many people think that you can tell if you have high blood pressure by experiencing symptoms like headache, nose bleeds or chest pains, but the reality is that hypertension is a symptomless disease. When blood pressure is elevated and is not treated, you heart, brain and kidneys can suffer the consequences and you do not know it.
Get checked for High Blood Pressure
Everyone should know what their blood pressure numbers are and get treated if elevated or prevent it from being elevated. Factors like age, obesity, family history, increased salt consumption, medications, lack of exercise, alcohol, drugs, renal disease and hormonal abnormalities can contribute to the development of high blood pressure.
What can I do to prevent high blood pressure?
- Reduce salt (sodium) intake – Salt is known to retain water and increase blood pressure and the United States is considered a society that consumes a high salt diet. Most of the salt we eat comes from processed and packed foods. The recommendation is to consume less than 1,500 mg of sodium a day, to get an idea a teaspoon of salt has 2,400 mg of sodium!
- Consume Potassium – Potassium counterbalances the effects of sodium, at least 4,700 mg daily is advised. Some of the foods rich in potassium are potatoes, greens, bananas, tomatoes and oranges. Patients with renal disease should discuss with their doctors about their potassium intake.
- Limit alcohol consumption – Men should limit their alcohol intake to 2 drinks per day and women to 1 drink daily.
- Exercise! Exercise! Do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity to keep your circulation, lungs and heart healthy.
If despite of trying your best to prevent hypertension your blood pressure is elevated, your doctor can work with you to find an appropriate medical regimen to control it. Medications that help your body eliminating the sodium excess, retaining potassium or relaxing your blood vessels can be prescribed to you. Together with diet and exercise, medications can control hypertension and prevent heart attacks and strokes.
To learn more about ways to prevent and treat hypertension, join us at the Community Education Series sponsored by the Emory-Adventist Hospital at Smyrna, 3949 South Cobb Drive Smyrna, GA 30080. The event will take place on Wednesday June 18th, 2014 at 7:00 pm. To find out more, visit https://www.emoryadventist.org/education-events.
*Centers for Disease Control
About Dr. Gongora
Dr. Gongora is a Board certified cardiologist at the Emory Heart and Vascular Center and Assistant Professor of Medicine (Cardiology) at Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Gongora currently sees clinical patients at the Emory Heart & Vascular Center at Midtown and Emory Heart & Vascular Center at Smyrna. To schedule a general preventive cardiology consult please call 404-778-7777.
Dr Gongora went to medical school in Bogotá, Colombia, where she is from originally. She moved to Atlanta in 2005. Before starting her training in Internal Medicine and Cardiology at Emory University, Dr Gongora did a post doctoral research fellowship in hypertension and renal disease. Her research was partially funded by the American Heart Association.
During this time she published in recognized journals like the Journal of American College of Cardiology, Hypertension and Circulation. Also, she presented in nationally renowned meetings, like the American Heart Association, the American Society of Hypertension and the American Physiology Society meetings, among others. She has been a member of the American College of Cardiology, the American Physiological Society and the American Heart Association-Council for high blood pressure.
She is board certified in Cardiology, Internal Medicine and Echocardiography.