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Dispelling high blood pressure myths; GUEST COLUMN

Maryland Gazette - 1/13/2018

It is one of the most common health conditions in the United States yet it is often the most ignored - high blood pressure.

Unfortunately, an increasing number of people have high blood pressure and many do not think it is a big deal. And, unfortunately, they are very wrong. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) about 75 million Americans have high blood pressure, or 29 percent of all adults. High blood pressure is a serious condition that we all must be more conscious of as we age.

So what can we do about it? We can start by avoiding some common misconceptions around high blood pressure.

Myth #1: High blood pressure is not important. High blood pressure is a big deal. Also known as the 'silent killer' it can lead to severe or deadly consequences at any age and regardless of gender.

High blood pressure can lead to damage of your blood vessels, heart, kidneys and other organs in your body. Heart disease and stroke, both caused by high blood pressure, are the first and fifth leading causes of death in the U.S., respectively.

Myth #2: You can't do anything about it. While heredity does play a factor in high blood pressure, you can still take precautions. This includes maintaining a healthy weight, limiting sodium intake, eating a well-balanced diet, getting regular exercise, limiting alcohol and not smoking.

Myth #3: All you need to do is take your medicine. If you are prescribed medication by your health care provider to control your blood pressure that does not mean that is all you have to do.

In addition to healthy lifestyle choices, regular appointments and an annual physical with your health care provider are critical to monitoring high blood pressure.

Myth #4: Drinking wine helps lower high blood pressure.While a glass of red wine occasionally is okay for most people, it does not lower blood pressure.

Red wine and other types of alcohol can increase blood pressure dramatically. It can also cause heart failure, lead to stroke and produce irregular heartbeats. According to the American Heart Association, too much alcohol can contribute to high triglycerides, cancer, obesity, alcoholism, suicide and accidents.

If you drink, limit consumption to no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. Generally, one drink equals a 12-ounce beer, a four-ounce glass of wine, 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor, or one ounce of hard liquor (100 proof).

High blood pressure can be a lifelong condition that should be taken seriously. Follow your health care professional's recommendations carefully.

- Dr. Kelly Miller, an interventional cardiologist with The Heart Center of Northern Anne Arundel County (www.heartcenterdocs.com) and at the University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center, can be reached at 410-768-6600.

Credit: Dr. Kelly Miller

 
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