February is AMERICAN HEART MONTH, and there has never been a more urgent time to become acquainted with your heart. Whether you are an 80-year-old or a 20-year-old, new parameters have been adapted which could impact the way you approach your healthcare and life choices.
In November of 2017, the American Heart Association published new guidelines for what is now considered High Blood Pressure. Previously, the threshold for High Blood Pressure would be measured at 140/90 or above. Now, the new guidelines decreased this threshold level to 130/80 or above.
According to the American Heart Association, “The change [in guidelines] means 46 percent of U.S. adults are identified as having high blood pressure, compared with 32 percent under the previous definition. A blood pressure of less than 120/80 still will be considered normal, but levels at or above that, to 129, will be called ‘elevated.'”
So what does this mean for you?
It means you must begin to consider your life choices. Having an ‘elevated’ level does not necessarily mean you have to begin taking medications, but it does mean you have to be monitored and consider a lifestyle change.
Here are a few suggestions:
GET AN ANNUAL PHYSICAL: Many individuals do not like to go to their physician unless they are sick. We all have busy lives and taking a few hours to be evaluated does not seem like an enjoyable experience or the best use of valuable time. But getting an annual physical will provide the physician with a sample of your medical history which can be used to determine the best route of therapy if treatment is required. It also gives the individual the opportunity to be proactive, so treatment does not have to begin at a critical juncture. You can check your risk by using the calculator below.
EXERCISE: “Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity [spread out over the course of the] week” (Mayo Clinic). This can be as little as 30-minutes of walking 5 days per week or a 25-minute high intensive workout 3 days per week. Most adults do not want to exercise, and do not believe they have the time to do so. But, by setting this time aside each week, it can have long term benefits for your health. Go for a run, walk through the woods, or dance. Anything is better than a sedentary life.
EAT HEALTHY: Over the last decade, there has been a movement in the United States for individuals to become more health conscious and incorporate healthier options into their diets. Some of the suggestions for a healthy heart diet include choosing low-fat protein sources such as lean ground meats, fish, eggs, and legumes; reducing the sodium content by using more herbs & spices; eating more natural fruits & vegetables; decreasing sugar content; and controlling portion sizes. As you incorporate this diet, you will not only begin to feel more energetic, but it may decrease your waistline as well.
LAUGH MORE, LAUGH OFTEN: You read that correctly. Enjoy your life. LAUGH MORE & LAUGH OFTEN! Studies have shown laughing releases natural mood enhancing chemicals such as Dopamine, Endorphins, GABA, Oxytocin, etc. which may decrease stress levels and lower your blood pressure. And the more you laugh, the less stress you may feel. Laughter should not be a substitute for other methods and traditional blood pressure treatments, but it certainly cannot hurt. So today’s prescription: Watch a Good Comedy!
LISTEN TO THE MUSIC YOU LOVE: Just like laughing, listening to the music you love can also reduce stress. This, in-turn, can lower your blood pressure. Even if you do not prefer Classical Music, it is recommended you spend a little time each day listening to it to help relax and decrease stress.
QUIT SMOKING: In 2018, it is no secret smoking does not have any health benefits. There are countless medical journals and studies which can be offered as support to this claim. The chemicals in tobacco can damage the function of your heart and blood vessels, and increases your risk of Atherosclerosis, Coronary Heart Disease (CHD), and Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD). By quitting smoking, you decrease your risk of developing these and other medical conditions. Recent studies have extended the potential risks associated with smoking to E-Cigarettes (Vaping), although the risks are significantly lower than traditional smoking products. If you would like more information regarding smoking cessation, please contact us!
DECREASE EXCESSIVE CAFFEINE & ALCOHOL INTAKE: Anything in excess can have a negative impact on an individual’s health, but caffeine and alcohol in excess can raise blood pressure, even if temporarily. This can put an individual already at risk for heart attack and stroke at even greater risk. The suggestion, according to the Mayo Clinic, is if you have to have coffee or alcohol, to drink no more than TWO 8-ounce standard cups of coffee per day and to drink no more than 4 to 5 alcoholic beverages per week spread out. In moderation, coffee and wine have certain health benefits, but in excess, can be detrimental to an individual’s health by constricting blood vessels and forcing the heart to work harder to distribute oxygen rich blood.
As always, Stony Point Pharmacy would like to thank all of their customers for their continued patronage.
If there are any questions about this, or any other post, please contact Kenneth Pearson at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE: This post is intended to provide suggestions and is not intended to take the place of any medical advice provided by your physician. If you are unsure about its content, please contact Kenneth Pearson at the above e-mail address. You may also contact your physician for further clarification, as they are the most versed in your healthcare, and will be able to provide you with ample guidance.
*Stony Point Pharmacy is an independent pharmacy located in Stony Point, NY. It has been in operation since 1956, with the current owner in operation since 1985.