What you don’t know can’t hurt you, right? Not necessarily, especially when it comes to high blood pressure (hypertension). This often asymptomatic condition may not lead to physical problems right away, but over time it can damage and harden the arteries, causing buildup of scar tissue. Gradually, that scar tissue can accumulate plaque, leading to clotting of the arteries. So even though you may not know you have high blood pressure, it can hurt you.
High blood pressure is one of the most serious risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Every minute your arteries succumb to hypertension means more damage, hardening and higher likelihood of a rupture or blood clots. As aging progresses, a man’s risk of high blood pressure rises. Approximately 52 percent of men between ages 55 to 64 have high blood pressure. That number rises with ages 65 to 74 – up to 64 percent.
Medication is an option for those with high blood pressure, but it’s not the only solution. Healthy lifestyle changes can help, too. Men can slash one of the most serious risk factors for heart disease and stroke – high blood pressure – by taking into account these four easy tips from Life Line Screening:
Cut down the gut.
Having extra weight in your midsection requires more blood supply from your heart and arteries, making them work harder. This only worsens high blood pressure. Cut your heart some slack and slim down the gut. Eat less red meat, bread, pasta and high-fat foods, and pitch the sedentary lifestyle. Staying active is one of the best natural ways to lower high blood pressure.
Guzzle less alcohol.
There’s no need to cut alcohol altogether, but rather enjoy a drink in moderation. Up to two alcoholic beverages per day has actually been seen to lower risk of heart attack, but anything more can raise blood pressure. Stick to two or fewer.
Ditch the extra salt.
It may taste delicious on your buttery popcorn, but adding extra salt or having a diet filled with high-sodium foods makes your body retain water and increase blood volume. In turn, this raises your blood pressure. Studies show that the more sodium you eat, the shorter your life expectancy, so reduce your salt intake.
Give yourself a break.
With so much to worry about, it’s hard to find time to unwind and de-stress. Tension raises your body’s flight-or-fight response with adrenaline surges, causing your blood pressure to spike. So make an effort to de-stress every once in a while to give your body (and mind) a break.
Ignorance isn’t always bliss. Having high blood pressure and not knowing it will only worsen the damage it causes your arteries, so take control. You can find out if you have high blood pressure or other serious disease risk factors through preventive health screenings. Use the power of prevention by becoming aware of the state of your health; that way if something is wrong, you can do something about it.