Protect your heart, your brain, and your health with these smart changes.
Did you know that monitoring high blood pressure (or hypertension) is one of the most important things you can do to protect your health? Research proves it: People who use medication to bring their blood pressure to a healthy range reduce their risk for a stroke by at least 35 to 40 percent, their chance for a heart attack by 15 to 25 percent, and for heart failure by up to 64 percent. And on the flip side, you’re far more likely to experience a heart attack, stroke, heart failure, vision loss, kidney failure, and other medical problems if you leave high blood pressure unchecked.
Protect your heart, your brain, and your health with these smart (and manageable) medication and lifestyle tips.
- Take your medications as prescribed by your doctor.
Drugs that control your blood pressure work properly when you take them every day, according to the American Heart Association. If your doctor has prescribed two or more different blood pressure drugs, or you currently take another drug for something else, be sure to take everything exactlyas directed. Some prescriptions can counter the effectiveness of others, and can even create dangerous results when combined.
- Don’t stop on your own.
Just because your blood pressure levels stabilize doesn’t mean it’s time for a break from your medicine. Studies show that when people with high blood pressure don’t take their medications regularly, even after levels are healthy again, their risk for strokes and heart attacks increases. If you have concerns about a medication you are taking and want to stop, it’s important to talk with your doctor right away.
- Make remembering your medication easy.
Remembering to take your medications, especially when life becomes hectic, can be a challenge. Cut out the guesswork with a pillbox that organizes your medications for each day of the week and each time of day you need to take them. If possible, take them at the same times of day you do other routine daily activities, such as making morning coffee, brushing your teeth, or feeding a pet. Set an alarm on your clock, phone, or computer. And don’t forget to keep your medications together in one place, out of reach of children.
Another pro-tip: Ask your pharmacy to automatically refill and mail your prescriptions to your home, which is usually low- or no-cost. The easier it is to get and manage your medications, the more likely you’ll be to take them regularly.
- Keep up with blood pressure checks.
Although you can check your blood pressure at home with various devices, it’s important to see your physician regularly to have your levels checked officially.If you haven’t been in for an appointment within the last few months, now is the time to schedule: Recent changes in national blood pressure guidelines could affect your treatment and lead to even more protection for your health.
- Follow a healthy lifestyle.
As with most conditions, leading an active, healthy lifestyle will be one of your best medicines. Aim to exercise regularly, cut out smoking, and fill up on plenty of fruits, veggies, and whole grains as you can. Try to limit your alcohol consumption, too: Sticking to just one drink a day for women, and two for men, has been found to help lower blood pressure.