We’re seeing red this February as we celebrate American Heart Month! Love is in the air for Valentine’s Day, and it’s an excellent time to raise awareness of heart health.
One of the most common risk factors for cardiovascular disease is high blood pressure. High blood pressure can lead to cardiovascular disease by causing damage to your heart and arteries; however, you may not be aware that it’s causing damage to your body. High blood pressure usually has no signs or symptoms and is even sometimes called “the silent killer.” It’s important to have your blood pressure checked and, if it is 120/80 or above, make controlling it your goal. Health professionals recommend adults have a blood pressure reading of less than 120/80. You can have your blood pressure checked at your Primary Care Network Provider’s office or even at your local drugstore or pharmacy.
If you do have high blood pressure, it’s important to get it under control and talk to your Primary Care Network Provider about lifestyle changes that can support healthy blood pressure. Here’s how to get started:
Start a discussion with your Network Provider.
It’s important to communicate with your Primary Care Network Provider about the right treatment for you. Your healthcare team can talk to you about how you can lower your blood pressure through lifestyle changes like diet and exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, limiting your alcohol intake, and managing your stress.
Quit tobacco – and if you don’t use tobacco, don't start.
Heart health is greatly affected by tobacco use. It affects your heart, lungs, blood vessels and can cause high blood pressure. Once you make the decision to stop using tobacco, your blood pressure can begin to improve almost immediately. Tobacco use is the #1 preventable cause of high blood pressure and quitting should become your top priority. If you use tobacco and want support in quitting, the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Be Tobacco-free Program can give you the support you need. Covered members can enroll online through our myBlue member portal Learn more about the Be Tobacco-free Program.
Lower your sodium intake. Excess dietary sodium can lead to high blood pressure.
Here’s why – your kidneys cannot process and eliminate salt beyond a certain amount, which influences the blood pressure in your arteries. That's why excess sodium intake should be less than 2,300 mg for someone with healthy blood pressure of less than 120/80. For someone who already has high blood pressure, that should be less than 1,500 mg per day. Try following the D.A.S.H. diet if you would like a more specific eating plan, which has proven to improve blood pressure. For more information about this diet, click here.Learn more about how you can be heart healthy as part of American Heart month and all year long! Visit the American Heart Association’s website to learn more.