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You have been diagnosed with high blood pressure (also called hypertension). This means the force of blood against your artery walls is too strong. It also means your heart is working hard to move blood. High blood pressure usually has no symptoms, but over time, it can damage your heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and other organs. With help from your doctor, you can manage your blood pressure and protect your health.
Learn to take your own blood pressure. Keep a record of your results. Ask your doctor which readings mean that you need medical attention.
Take your blood pressure medication exactly as directed. Don’t skip doses. Missing doses can cause your blood pressure to get out of control.
Avoid medications that contain heart stimulants, including over-the-counter drugs. Check for warnings about high blood pressure on the label.
Check with your doctor before taking a decongestant. Some decongestants can worsen high blood pressure.
Maintain a healthy weight. Get help to lose any extra pounds.
Cut back on salt.
Limit canned, dried, packaged, and fast foods.
Don’t add salt to your food at the table.
Season foods with herbs instead of salt when you cook.
Follow the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan. This plan recommends vegetables, fruits, whole gains, and other heart healthy foods.
Begin an exercise program. Ask your doctor how to get started. The American Heart Association recommends aerobic exercise 3 to 4 times a week for an average of 40 minutes at a time, with your doctor's approval. Simple activities like walking or gardening can help.
Break the smoking habit. Enroll in a stop-smoking program to improve your chances of success. Ask your health care provider about programs and medications to help you stop smoking.
Limit drinks that contain caffeine (coffee, black or green tea, cola) to 2 per day.
Never take stimulants such as amphetamines or cocaine; these drugs can be deadly for someone with high blood pressure.
Control your stress. Learn stress-management techniques.
Limit alcohol to no more than 1 drink a day for women and 2 drinks a day for men.
Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff.
Call your doctor immediately if you have any of the following:
Chest pain or shortness of breath (call 911)
Moderate to severe headache
Weakness in the muscles of your face, arms, or legs
Fainting or dizziness
Pulsating or rushing sound in your ears
Weakness, tingling, or numbness of your face, arms, or legs
Change in vision
Blood pressure measured at home that is greater than 180/110
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