You are more likely to be told your blood pressure is too high as you get older. This is because your blood vessels become stiffer as you age. When that happens, your blood pressure goes up.
In addition to your age, you have a higher risk of high blood pressure if you:
- Are African American
- Are a man
- Are overweight or obese
- Are often stressed or anxious
- Are not active
- Drink too much alcohol (more than one drink per day for women and more than two drinks per day for men)
- Eat too much salt in your diet
- Have a family history of high blood pressure
- Have diabetes
- Have high cholesterol
There is a clear pathway to help you manage high blood pressure and enjoy the many benefits of a healthy heart. The goal of treatment is to reduce blood pressure so that you have a lower risk of complications. You and your health care provider should set a blood pressure goal for you.
If you have pre-hypertension, your health care provider will recommend lifestyle changes to bring your blood pressure down to a normal range. Medicines are rarely used for pre-hypertension.
There are seven main ways you can control your blood pressure. They are:
- Eat a better diet, which may include reducing salt
- Enjoy regular physical activity
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Manage stress
- Avoid tobacco smoke
- Comply with medication prescriptions
- If you drink, limit alcohol
Adopting a healthy lifestyle is critical for the prevention of HBP and an indispensable part of managing it. Think of these changes as a "lifestyle prescription" and make every effort to comply with them.
Your health care provider can help you find programs for losing weight, stopping smoking, and exercising. You can also get a referral from your doctor to a dietitian, who can help you plan a diet that is healthy for you.
There are many different medicines that can be used to treat high blood pressure. Often, a single blood pressure drug may not be enough to control your blood pressure, and you may need to take two or more drugs. It is very important that you take the medications prescribed to you. If you have side effects, your health care provider can substitute a different medication.
Whether you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure or are concerned because you have some of the risk factors for the disease, understand this: while there is no cure, high blood pressure is manageable.
By adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle, you can:
- Reduce high blood pressure
- Prevent or delay the development of HBP
- Enhance the effectiveness of blood pressure medications
- Lower your risk of heart attack, heart disease, stroke and kidney disease
The information on this page was compiled by the New Mexico Coalition for Healthcare Quality from a variety of sources, including (but not limited to) American Heart Association, National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This information summarizes core care elements appropriate to most adults. This information should not be construed as representing standards of care nor as a substitute for individualized evaluation and treatment on clinical circumstances by a qualified health care professional. Please see our disclaimer.
For more information on this complex health issue, please see the High Blood Pressure Links page for resources and sources of information.