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H.E.F. Inc.
Box 651 • Scarsdale, NY 10583

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health

Medscape Cardiology

"High Blood Pressure:
Lower It and Live Longer"

"High Blood Pressure and Diabetes:
Control Them and Live Longer"

"Know Your Numbers:
A Guide to Managing High Blood Pressure"

"Believe in Healthy Blood Pressure:
A Guide for Blacks or African Americans"


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If your blood pressure is higher than 140/90 mm Hg on more than two or three occasions, you have high blood pressure.
Untreated high blood pressure can lead to strokes, heart attacks, heart failure, or kidney failure.
Treatment will lower blood pressure and prevent many of these problems.
1. If you are overweight – lose weight – 1–2 lbs a week: avoid fad or rigid diets. Weight loss is the single most effective non-drug method for lowering blood pressure and helping to correct other risk factors for heart disease like diabetes and abnormal amounts of cholesterol in the blood.
2. Reduce Salt Intake: Avoid processed foods, canned soups, tomato juice, and obviously salty foods such as pretzels, pickles, etc. – avoid foods with more than 150 mg of sodium in each portion.
3. Exercise Regularly: You do not have to jog or run – walking for 30–45 minutes 3–4 times a week, climbing extra stairs, participating in sports that you enjoy will help to reduce your heart attack risk and may lower blood pressure
4. Moderate Alcohol Intake: Enjoy an occasional glass of wine, beer or a cocktail (unless you have a family history of alcoholism or have an alcohol sensitivity), but limit your intake to 1–2 drinks a day.
5. Stop Smoking: If you are one of the decreasing numbers of people who still smoke. This may not lower your blood pressure but it will eliminate one of the most important heart attack risk factors.
6. If your blood pressure remains above 140/90 mm Hg despite weight reduction if appropriate, a lower salt diet, and an exercise program, discuss the use of medication with your doctor. Numerous studies have demonstrated that lowering even a slightly elevated blood pressure will reduce the risk of stroke, heart attack, or kidney failure. Most people with hypertension will need some medication to lower blood pressure to normal levels. There are many safe and effective medications available.
7. If you are put on medication, take it. It won’t do you any good in the medicine cabinet.
8. If you develop a reaction to a medication or you are unable to afford it, talk to your doctor. Don’t just stop taking it—and don’t react to dramatic news stories that warn of disasters—check with the person who is treating you, not with a TV anchorperson. Most blood pressure-lowering drugs do not cause significant side effects.
9. Ask What Your Blood Pressure Is: If it doesn’t decrease to below 140/90, discuss a change in the treatment program with your doctor.
10. More than 80–85% of people with high blood pressure can have it controlled. Remember, the complications of high blood pressure that used to happen years ago are becoming less and less common as more and more people are being treated for this disease. But also remember—treatment doesn’t just mean taking pills or changing your diet—it means getting your blood pressure down to below 140/90 and even lower if you have diabetes or heart disease.
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