Maintaining a healthy blood pressure is important for everyone, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
High blood pressure remains the leading cause of heart attack and stroke, and it is a contributing factor in poor outcomes for individuals who contract COVID-19, the American Heart Association says. Fortunately, high blood pressure also is the most significant controllable risk factor in maintaining heart health.
“Lowering your blood pressure is one of the most important things you can do to reduce your risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke,” says Willie Lawrence, M.D., chief of cardiology, Research Medical Center, and American Heart Association volunteer expert.
If you have high blood pressure, work with your healthcare provider to manage your risks. Some small changes that can make a big difference:
– Know your numbers. Check your blood pressure regularly with a validated monitor; a value of 120/80 mm Hg (described as “120 over 80”) or lower is considered normal, while a value greater than 130/80 is considered high and increases the risk for heart attack or stroke. Blood pressure values are expressed as millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and list the systolic number followed by the diastolic number.
– Take your meds. If your doctor prescribes medication to help control high blood pressure, take it as directed, but talk to your doctor if you have concerns. Also, let your doctor know if you are taking over-the-counter medicines, as these can sometimes interfere with prescription drugs doing their jobs. Some over-the-counter pain relievers, namely ibuprofen and naproxen, can increase blood pressure, the American Heart Association says. Consider acetaminophen for pain relief, or ask your doctor for other options.
– Live healthfully. Maintaining a healthy weight, getting regular exercise, and eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products and low in saturated fat can help promote healthy blood pressure. In addition, try to keep sodium consumption below 1,500 mg per day. Also, limit consumption of alcohol to 1-2 drinks per day (in general, one for women, two for men). If you don’t drink, don’t start. No smoking.
– Get moving. Being physically active at least 150 minutes per week, with a combination of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity, helps promote healthy blood pressure and overall health.
Visit heart.org/bptools for the most up-to-date information on heart health and managing high blood pressure.
The American Heart Association’s efforts to improve healthy choices related to living with high blood pressure is proudly supported by TYLENOL.