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This month we celebrate Valentine’s Day, when we think about the people we love. But are you one of them? Don’t forget to take care of yourself: February is also American Heart Month. Protect your heart health, especially by preventing hypertension, so you can keep spreading the love.
The Heart of the Matter
Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, occurs when blood hits too hard against the walls of a person’s arteries. It’s very common, with over three million cases in the United States per year, and very dangerous. Because hypertension usually has no symptoms, it often goes untreated. This can lead to heart disease, which includes heart attack and stroke and is the number-one cause of death in the U.S.
High blood pressure can be caused by an underlying condition, such as diabetes or congenital defects. But most of the time, there’s no clear cause. The good news is that this means there are things you can do to manage or prevent hypertension.
Put Your Heart Into It
First, find out if you already have high blood pressure. It’s easy to detect during a physical exam or health screening, which you can get at any San Fernando Community Health Center. Then you can manage existing hypertension or prevent yourself from getting it by eating healthy. Diets high in salt, fat, or cholesterol and low in potassium can contribute to high blood pressure. You’ll also want to adopt a regular exercise routine that works for you. Less active people tend to have higher heart rates, which forces the heart to work harder to pump blood through your body. Overweight people need more blood to carry nutrients where they need it, and this also puts too much pressure on their heart. The staff at SFCHC can help you find foods and exercises you’ll love and stick to!
It will come as no surprise that smoking, chewing tobacco, and secondhand smoke all raise blood pressure and damage artery walls. Remove them from your life as soon as possible. Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure, too, so stop after one drink per day if you’re female, two drinks if you’re a man. You can also prevent hypertension by managing stress through self-care. This can include making time for yourself with an activity you enjoy, practicing meditation, or spending time with a friend. SFCHC offers counseling and support groups to help you drop an unhealthy habit or pick up a new healthy one.
From Our Heart to Yours
If your hypertension is very serious, there are medications that can help and SFCHC care providers who can walk you through treatment. And as always, SFCHC accepts numerous types of health insurance and offers the uninsured a sliding fee scale based on household size and income.
SFCHC’s love language is providing healthcare to anyone and everyone who needs it. So when there are people in your life your heart beats for, we’ll be here to make sure it keeps doing it.