High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a common yet serious health condition affecting about 1 out of every 3 adults in the U.S.
It is often called the “silent killer” because it greatly increases the risk of heart attack and stroke yet many people with hypertension do not have the classic symptoms of high blood pressure: sweating, nervousness, or trouble sleeping.
With this being National High Blood Pressure Education Month, we thought we would help dispel harmful misconceptions surrounding this condition.
Myth 1: High blood pressure runs in my family so I will get it too.
While a family history of hypertension does increase your risk of developing it, that doesn’t mean you can’t avoid it. These healthy lifestyle factors can help prevent high blood pressure:
- Eat a healthy diet that consists of fruits and vegetables, lean protein and whole grains. Limit unhealthy saturated fats, sodium and fast carbs (sugar and processed flour)
- Get regular physical activity – about 30 minutes a day
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Manage stress
- Avoid tobacco and limit alcohol consumption to 1 drink per day for women and 2 for men.
Myth 2: I feel fine. I don’t have to worry about high blood pressure.
Even if you feel good and have no family history or other risk factors for high blood pressure, that doesn’t mean you are safe. Many people don’t have symptoms. Be sure to get your blood pressure checked at least once every two years.
Myth 3: If my blood pressure is 119/79 (considered normal) then I’m in good shape.
Not so fast. Normal blood pressure for a healthy person may be 119/79 (or below) but if you have other health conditions such as diabetes, excess body weight or high cholesterol, then your doctor may want your blood pressure even lower.
Myth 4: Kosher and sea salt are low sodium alternatives to table salt.
Like table salt, both kosher and sea salt contain 40% sodium and count the same toward total sodium consumption.
Myth 5: I was diagnosed with high blood pressure but I have it under control now so I can stop taking medication.
High blood pressure can be a life-long disease. Don’t stop taking your medication, but do speak with your doctor about your concerns and prognosis.
For more ways to lower your risk of hypertension or keep it in check try these 10 Top Ways to Manage Blood Pressure Naturally.
American Heart Association