Aimed at helping 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 for Americans to take to improve their heart health. These tips coincide with American Heart Month.
“As the calendar turns to American Heart Month, we are calling on all Americans to take control of their heart health by knowing and monitoring their blood pressure levels and making healthy lifestyle changes that can significantly reduce the risk of serious health consequences associated with high blood pressure,” said AMA President Barbara L. McAneny, M.D. “Nearly half of all U.S. adults are living with high blood pressure and at increased risk of heart attack and stroke. We know that by empowering more patients to monitor and control their blood pressure, we will continue to not only help improve health outcomes for patients, but also 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 LowerYourHBP.org to better understand your numbers and take the 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.
- Eat a healthy diet—making simple dietary changes can help you manage or prevent high blood pressure, including eating less sodium, reducing the amount of packaged, processed foods you consume—especially those with added sodium and sugar, reducing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, and eating foods that are rich in potassium.
- Maintain or achieve a healthy weight—take steps to lose weight, if overweight, as 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.
Improving the health of the nation is a top priority for the AMA. The AMA has been working over the past several years to reduce the burden of preventable diseases like cardiovascular disease and will continue to further these efforts—particularly through its long-term collaboration with the American Heart Association (AHA) to address the growing burden of high blood pressure in the United States.
Recognizing that high blood pressure is a major health threat to patients, the AMA developed online tools to support physicians with the latest evidence-based information and resources they need to help manage their patients’ high blood pressure. These resources are available to all physicians and health systems as part of the AMA and AHA’s joint Target: BP™ initiative—a national program launched in 2016 aimed at reducing the number of Americans who die from heart attacks and strokes each year by urging physician practices, health systems and patients to prioritize blood pressure control.
In October, as part of the Target: BP™ initiative the AMA and AHA together recognized 802 physician practices and health care organizations from across the country for their commitment to reducing the number of Americans who have heart attacks and strokes each year.