Nearly half of American adults suffer from hypertension or high blood pressures. That means that every one of them is at increased risk of heart attack, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and some types of dementia.
Hypertension happens when the pressure inside your blood vessels increases beyond normal levels, which can cause damage to your tissues and organs. It can happen on its own, when cholesterol deposits build up inside your arteries, or as a side effect of another issue, such as kidney disease, thyroid problems, or taking certain medicines.
Lots of factors can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure, including your age, gender, and genetics. While there’s nothing you can do about these risk factors, you can control other factors — called modifiable risk factors — by changing some key habits.
With four locations in Houston and Cypress, Texas, the team at Houston Kidney Specialists Center helps patients learn safe and effective ways to manage their hypertension, using a tailored approach focused on each patient’s unique needs, risk factors, and lifestyle. Here are a few things you can do to reduce your risk of developing hypertension and its complications.
Smoking can affect your health in lots of ways, including causing damage inside your blood vessels. Having inflammation inside your arteries can make it easier for plaque to stick to the walls of your arteries, and plaque can interfere with blood flow and raise your blood pressure. The chemicals in cigarettes can also cause your arteries to constrict and stiffen over time, which can make it harder for blood to circulate.
Losing even a modest amount of weight can decrease the strain on your heart, which, in turn, can make it easier for blood to move through your circulatory system. Plus, maintaining a healthy weight can help decrease artery-damaging inflammation and help you stay more active.
Speaking of activity, engaging in regular exercise can help keep your blood flowing well, which can reduce stress on your blood vessels. Exercising can also help improve your heart health and help you stay at a healthy weight.
Eating healthy, balanced meals can help you maintain a healthy weight, which, in turn, can help you manage your blood pressure. Focus on healthy fats and deeply colored fruits and vegetables, because doing so can help you get the antioxidants and nutrients you need to support your heart and blood vessel health. And cut back on sugars and unhealthy fats, which can cause weight gain and contribute to hypertension.
While having one drink probably won’t cause an elevation in your blood pressure, drinking too much might have an effect. That’s because alcohol consumption increases production of a hormone called renin, which makes blood vessels constrict. By narrowing your vessels, this causes the pressure inside to rise.
Stress increases your heart rate, which, in turn, causes your heart to beat faster. When your heart beats faster, this means your heart is pumping blood through your vessels at a higher rate, leading to elevations in your blood pressure.
Another great way to lower your blood pressure is to get good sleep. Sleep is the time when your body repairs itself. It’s also a time when your blood pressure naturally decreases. When you don’t get enough quality sleep, your blood pressure stays elevated longer. If you need some help with sleep, the CDC offers helpful tips on its website.
If you have high blood pressure, or if you’re at risk of developing hypertension, a good management plan is essential. To learn how our team can help, call 281-429-8780 or book an appointment online with Houston Kidney Specialists Center today.