It's important to discuss ways to keep ourselves healthy. After all, much of what makes us sick is directly affected by our day-to-day behaviors. A case in point is hypertension.
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for both heart disease (the Nation's No. 1 killer) and stroke (our No. 3 killer).
The good news is High blood pressure can be controlled with a low-salt diet, regular exercise, and weight control as well as medicine.
In spite of our understanding about the role high blood pressure plays in several illnesses, a disturbing 2007 report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicated that nearly 30% of U.S. adults have high blood pressure, and a whopping 70% of them do not have theirs under control.
Luckily, high blood pressure responds well not only to medications, but also to lifestyle changes. Combining the two approaches is a great way to control the problem, and yet this synergy is too infrequently used.
"While medication is often essential for treating high blood pressure, it should be complemented by lifestyle modification," says Barry A. Franklin, Director of Cardiac Rehabilitation and Exercise Laboratories at William Beaumont Hospital in Michigan, and Past President of the American College of Sports Medicine. "The added benefit of an appropriate lifestyle [a diet low in salt -- aim for no more than 1,500 mg of sodium a day -- a regular exercise program and an appropriate weight] is substantial."
We live in uncertain times when it comes to health care, and we hear time and again about the health care crisis our country is facing. A major reason we have a crisis in health care is because we have a crisis in health. Many of us are just not taking care of ourselves. With high blood pressure, a little preventive maintenance goes a long way.
From the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center, I'm Dr. Tedd Mitchell, and this is the President's Prescription.
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