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Simple Steps for Controlling Hypertension: May 9, 2014

Hypertension. As health conditions go it is often misunderstood. Because it doesn’t make you feel bad, people tend to overlook its seriousness.

“Hypertension is often known as the silent killer because most patients have no symptoms at all,” says Dr. Gary Goforth, who is a family practice physician with Lee Memorial Health System.

Doctors take hypertension very serious. It can be fatal, leading to heart attack and stroke. But you can take steps to control your blood pressure. First-be informed. Pay attention to your numbers.

“True hypertension is when the blood pressure is consistently 140/90. There’s a term called pre-hypertension when the systolic pressure, the high number is between 121 and 139 and when the diastolic pressure, the lower number, is between 80 and 89,” says Dr. Goforth.

These numbers serve as notice that it’s time to change.

Step two: look at your lifestyle.

 “Asking patients to lose weight, reduce salt in their diet, reduce alcohol intake - all things that are very effective in lowering blood pressure and preventing them from needing medicines,” Dr. Goforth says.

Step three may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s not. Getting blood pressure under control may require medication. If your doctor advises it, it’s important patients to stick to the program.

“When they’ve got severe or stage two hypertension then we generally will start with at least two drugs and add to that to control pressure. However, if they make major lifestyle changes it’s possible that they lower their blood pressure and they get off medicine,” says Dr. Goforth.

Generally speaking, hypertension is a lifelong illness. But following these steps helps you control the disease. So it doesn’t control you.