Heart-Healthy Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure

February 02, 2020

If you’re like many Americans – about 100 million, or almost half of all adults, according to the American Heart Association – you have high blood pressure. It basically means that your heart has to work too hard to pump blood throughout your body.

Over time, uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to heart disease, heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney problems, and even dementia.

If high blood pressure sounds serious, it is, especially if it’s left to rise. However, finding out if you have it is easy: when you see a doctor, one of the first things they do is check your blood pressure with that inflatable cuff known as a sphygmomanometer.

Heart-Healthy

The good news is that there are plenty of ways to reduce your blood pressure and improve your heart health.

 

Exercise Regularly

Exercise Regularly

Engaging in at least 30 minutes of cardio exercise a day is one of the best ways to lower your blood pressure. Don’t worry about joining a gym: taking a walk, hike, or bike ride outdoors is a great way to get cardio. Every bit helps

 

Stop Smoking

Stop Smoking

Smoking, using chew or dip, vaping, or any tobacco or nicotine consumption immediately raises your blood pressure. Many of these substances contain chemicals that damage your heart (and many other parts of your body).

 

Cut Back on Your Drinking

Cut Back on Your Drinking

Many people who enjoy a drink or two say that it helps them feel less stressed. You’ve also probably read that having a glass of wine is good for your heart. Unfortunately, there’s no hard scientific evidence that shows that any alcoholic beverage can actually lower your blood pressure. If you drink, do so in moderation: no more than one drink a day for women, or two for men.

 

Use Less Salt

Use Less Salt

Cutting the amount of salt you add to your food is a step in the right direction. But even if you stop adding it to your meals, you may still be getting an unhealthy amount of salt. These tips can help you sweep out the sodium.

  • Read food labels. The ingredient you want to look at it sodium. You will be shocked to learn how much is in foods that aren’t very salty, like bread, sauces, ketchup, and even breakfast cereal. Look for low-sodium alternatives.
  • Cut back on processed food. Food naturally doesn’t have much sodium, but when food is processed with additives, sodium is added. Lunch meats, canned soups, snack foods like chips and crackers, and pasta meals (like mac and cheese in a box or canned spaghetti) are among the highest in sodium.
  • You don’t have to do it all at once. Cut back gradually – if you find your food’s too bland, try adding some spices and seasonings to shake up your taste buds. Eventually, you’ll find that many foods are too salty for you, and you’ll crave them less.

 

Watch Your Weight – and Your Waist

Watch Your Weight – and Your Waist

There’s a direct link between weight and blood pressure: according to the National Institutes of Health, when your body weight increases, your blood pressure rises. If you’re overweight or obese, even dropping a small amount of weight can reduce your blood pressure.

If you carry your extra weight in your stomach (if you’re apple-shaped rather than pear-shaped), you may be 22% more likely to have high blood pressure. The diet and exercise tips above can help you reduce your weight and your waistline but ask your doctor about realistic goals based on your health history.

 

Drink Fewer Caffeinated Beverages

Drink Fewer Caffeinated Beverages

Even though caffeine has some health benefits, not everyone can tolerate it. For many people, a cup of coffee or a soda may be enough to spike their blood pressure. If you’re looking to stay hydrated, consider some of these healthy beverages.

 

Keep Your Stress Down

Keep Your Stress Down

Science still isn’t 100% sure of why stress and high blood pressure are linked; it could be that when people are stressed, they eat unhealthy foods and drink more. If you have high blood pressure, learning how to control your stress may help lower it, cut your risks for other conditions, as well as helping you reduce your number of headaches, colds, and sleepless nights.

 

Think You Have High Blood Pressure? Call Us.

High Blood

For those who do have high blood pressure, regular checkups can ensure it’s in an acceptable range and then take action if it’s not. Some people may need medication to control their blood pressure but making healthy lifestyle changes should always be the first course of action. Call us to schedule an appointment and get personalized recommendations that can help your heart grow healthy.

 

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The Nine Things You Need to Know to Keep Your Heart Healthy

February 01, 2019

You probably already know Valentine’s Day is coming up, but did you know February is Heart Health Month? So, instead of candy, we’re giving you these bite-sized tips to help you show your heart some love.


1.    Heart Disease Runs in Families.


AltaMed Latino family in group shot smiling
 
To some degree, heart disease is thought to be ‘hereditary’ or ‘genetic:’ that is, it can be passed from one generation to another through the genes. However, having the genes for it doesn’t mean you are absolutely certain to develop heart disease: it just means you’re more at risk.

 

2.    But There’s a Lot You Can Do to Prevent It.


AltaMed middle age Hispanic man running on treadmill

 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that about 80% of all heart disease deaths could have been prevented by following steps like eating a healthy diet, exercising, quitting smoking, and having regular health screenings.


3.    All Fats Aren’t Created Equal. 


AltaMed half avocado on wooden table
 
Most of us have been trained to believe that all fats are bad. However, some sources of fat are actually good for you and may reduce your risk for heart disease. 

  • Unsaturated fats are the good kind of fat, and they’re found in foods like avocados, nuts like almonds and walnuts, olive and canola oils, fish, and more. Enjoy in moderation. 
  • Then there are saturated fats (found in whole milk products, red meat, skin-on chicken, among others) which should be limited to occasional eating; and trans fats, which should be avoided when possible as they increase both your cholesterol level and heart disease risk. They’re found in processed foods like fries, cakes and cookies, microwave popcorn, and frozen pizza.


4.    Your Belly Could Tell You Your Risk. 


AltaMed chubby man sitting on couch with burger fries and beer
 
If you have a lot of fat around your middle or belly, compared to your hips, you may be more likely to have heart disease (think being apple-shaped rather than pear-shaped.) One recent study found that women who carried their fat around their middles were twice as likely to have heart problems, including heart attacks. Fortunately, losing even a little weight can make a difference for your heart.


5.    Petting Puppies is Good for You. 


AltaMed golden retriever dog smiling and getting pet by owner
 
Science can’t say for sure that stress causes heart disease, but stress leads to the factors that can put you at risk for heart disease or make your health worse (such as high blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome, and ulcers, to name a few). Whatever you can do to manage your stress is good, and doctors agree that having a pet, and even just stroking an animal, can help. In fact, one study showed that dog owners who’d had heart attacks or heart problems had better health outcomes than those who didn’t have pets.


6.    There’s a Connection Between Your Teeth and Your Heart Health.


AltaMed woman smiling putting toothpaste on yellow toothbrush
 
A good oral hygiene routine is important for your overall health and well-being, not to mention your confidence. Not brushing and flossing can lead to bacteria, inflammation, and plaque, which has been linked to heart attacks.
  


7.    The Warning Signs of a Heart Attack. 


AltaMed man grabbing heart like he is having chest pains
 
Heart attack symptoms can vary from person to person, but the signs usually include:

  • Pressure, tightness, pain, or a squeezing or aching sensation in your chest or arms 
  • Nausea, indigestion, heartburn, or abdominal pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold sweat
  • Fatigue
  • Sudden lightheadedness or dizziness


8.    One Heart Attack Leads to Another. 


AltaMed person in hospital bed
 
Those who’ve had heart attacks are four times more likely to suffer a fatal cardiac event, compared to those who haven’t. 


9.    You Can Get Your Numbers Checked at No Cost. 


AltaMed two female doctors and one male doctor
 
Getting your blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol numbers checked are all considered essential health benefits and therefore, your medical plan will cover a trip to the doctor at no charge to you. 
 

 

Health Screenings After 50

October 11, 2018

Even if you’ve lived a healthy life, as you enter your 50s, your risk of developing chronic diseases, such as arthritis, heart conditions, cancer, diabetes, and even depression increases. These diseases can take years off your life, as well as affect the quality of your life.

Getting regular screenings can help you:

  • Lower your risk of chronic disease or illness
  • Save money on your medical costs, since chronic diseases require additional medical care
  • Delay or prevent illness or disease by catching them early and treating them

Basically, there’s every reason for you to take charge of your health, especially since most preventive services and screenings are covered by most insurance plans, including Medicaid and Medicare!
 

Know What Tests You Need


These are a few of the most common screenings you need starting at age 50:

  • Women should get a mammogram every 2 years
  • Colorectal cancer screenings every year
  • Regular diabetes screenings
  • Lipid disorder screenings to monitor blood cholesterol
  • Osteoporosis screenings should start at age 60 to screen for healthy bones

The best way to stay healthy and keep up on your screenings is to get regular health checkups. Depending on your gender and your family health history, your doctor may recommend additional screenings for you.

Call us for more information about the health screenings you need at (888) 499-9303