Morning Rounds: Stopping the “Silent Killer”

NORFOLK, Va. - May is High Blood Pressure Education Month, and News 3 is taking action for your health with medical expert Dr. Ryan Light.

"Hypertension increases the risk of heart failure, peripheral arterial disease, stroke, heart attack, kidney disease, and dementia," explained Dr. Light on News 3 This Morning.

"The ideal goal for blood pressure is 120/80," he said.  "Hypertension is currently defined as a blood pressure greater than 130/85 by the American Cardiology Association."

Dr. Light said blood pressure should be checked at least once a year.  If it is above 130/85, he said to follow up immediately with your primary care provider.

"Hypertension is referred to as the silent killer," Dr. Light warned.  "Hypertension usually does not cause any signs or symptoms until late in the disease."

There are things we can be on the lookout for, according to Dr. Light.  They include headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, irregular heart beat, chest pain, and a pulsing sensation in the chest, neck, or head.

Dr. Light said the best treatment for high blood pressure is usually a lifestyle change:  limiting sodium and increasing physical activity.

"Do not add salt to prepared food and limit processed food due to preservatives which are often sodium based," he said, further explaining that people with high blood pressure should consume no more than 1500mg of sodium per day.

The current recommendation for exercise for the treatment of hypertension is 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise five times a week.

"Physicians may often initially attempt to regulate hypertension with modification of diet and exercise prior to treatment with medication," he said.

You can check your blood pressure for free at your local pharmacy and some grocery stores.  Learn more about support from the American Heart Association.