CHICAGO — To help the millions of Americans currently living with high blood pressure reduce their risk of heart attack and stroke, the American Medical Association (AMA) is offering six tips that Americans can take to improve their heart health. The release of these tips coincides with the start of February’s American Heart Month this week.
“In February, American Heart Month, we encourage all Americans to take control of their heart health by better understanding and monitoring their blood pressure levels and making healthy lifestyle changes that can significantly reduce their risk of serious health consequences associated with high blood pressure,” said AMA President Patrice A. Harris, M.D., M.A. “High blood pressure is the nation’s leading risk factor for heart attack and stroke, yet an overwhelming number of U.S. adults are living with uncontrolled high blood pressure—placing them at increased risk for both conditions. By empowering more patients to monitor and control their blood pressure, we will continue to improve health outcomes for patients and reduce health care costs.”
The AMA’s six tips for improving heart health to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, include the following:
- Know your blood pressure numbers— visit ManageYourBP.org to better understand your blood pressure numbers and take necessary steps to get your high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, under control. Doing so will reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke.
- Commit to a treatment plan to manage high blood pressure—work with your doctor to create an individualized treatment plan that includes healthy lifestyle changes that you can realistically stick to long-term to help you maintain a lower blood pressure and lower your risk for negative health consequences.
- Be more physically active—regular physical activity can help reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure. It is recommended that healthy adults 18 to 65 years of age should get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity.
- Reduce your intake of processed foods, especially those with added sodium and sugar—making simple dietary changes can help you manage or prevent high blood pressure, including eating less sodium, red meat and processed meats, reducing the amount of packaged, processed foods you consume—especially those with added sodium and sugar, and reducing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. Eat foods that are rich in potassium and add more plant-based foods, such as olive oil, nuts and seeds to your diet.
- Maintain or achieve a healthy weight—take steps to lose weight, if overweight. Being 20 pounds or more overweight could put you at increased risk of developing high blood pressure.
- If consuming alcohol, do so in moderation as defined by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans—up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men, and only by adults of legal drinking age.
The AMA is committed to improving the health of the nation by leading the charge to prevent and reduce the burden of chronic diseases, like cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. The AMA will continue its efforts aimed at helping the U.S. achieve no new preventable cases of type 2 diabetes and helping all adults meet their blood pressure goals to ensure patients live richer and fuller lives.