High Blood Pressure: The Quiet Killer

You can’t see it, you can’t feel it, and unless you get checked, you won’t even know you have it.

That makes high blood pressure, or hypertension, a quiet killer, one that slowly damages your blood vessels, heart, and eyes while simultaneously increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke, dementia, and kidney disease. High blood pressure results in stiff, inflexible arteries that are virtual magnets for cholesterol and other blood components that form the gunk known as plaque. If you already have this gunk, blood rushing past at high force is just what it takes to nick the “cap” off mounds of plaque, setting the dominoes in motion for a heart attack.

One in five Americans have high blood pressure, and nearly a third don’t know they have it. Many of the rest of us are at risk, as blood pressure slowly creeps up with age. Here’s how to make your readings healthy.

1. Every morning, take a brisk 15-minute walk. Amazingly, you don’t need a lot of exercise to make a difference in your blood pressure. When Japanese researchers asked 168 inactive volunteers with high blood pressure to exercise at a health club for different amounts of time each week for eight weeks, blood pressure dropped almost as much in those who exercised 30-90 minutes a week as in those who exercised more than 90 minutes a week.

2. Write “take medication” on your calendar every day. Twenty-five percent of the time, when your blood pressure hasn’t dropped after you’ve started medication, the reason is that you forgot to take your pills.

3. Buy a home blood pressure kit. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that home blood pressure testing provides a better overall picture of blood pressure than measurement in a doctor’s office. In the study, office measurement failed to identify 13 percent of patients who had high blood pressure only in the office but not at home (called “white-coat hypertension”). It also failed to identify 9 percent of people who had high blood pressure at home but not in the doctor’s office. Another study, this one presented at the 2004 European Society of Hypertension meeting, found that people who monitored their blood pressure at home had lower overall blood pressure than those who only had their pressure taken at the doctor’s office. A good home blood pressure kit costs under $100, a small price to pay for peace of mind.

4. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons flaxseed over your yogurt in the morning and mix 2 tablespoons into your ice cream, spaghetti sauce, or other food later in the day. One small study found that adding 4 tablespoons of the crunchy stuff significantly lowered systolic blood pressure (a strong predictor of heart disease) in postmenopausal women with a history of heart disease. Flaxseed is rich in many nutrients and in fiber. Its effects on blood pressure are likely due to its high content of omega-3 fatty acids.

Want to stay smart and healthy?

Get our weekly Health Reads newsletter

how we use your e-mail
We will use your email address to send you this newsletter. For more information please read our privacy policy.

Funny Jokes

Some people like to travel by train because 
it combines the slowness of a car with the cramped public exposure of 
an airplane.

Dennis Miller

Funny Jokes

I think my pilot was a little inexperienced. We were sitting on the runway, and he said, “OK, folks, we’re gonna be taking off in a just few—whoa! Here we go.”

Kevin Nealon

Funny Jokes

“I can’t wait until your vacation is over.” 
—Everyone following you on Instagram


Funny Jokes

A man knocked on my door and asked for a donation toward the local swimming pool. So I gave him a glass of water.

Comedian Greg Davies

Funny Jokes

Just found the worst page in the entire dictionary. What I saw was disgraceful, disgusting, dishonest, and disingenuous.


Funny Jokes

Client: We need you to log in to the YouTube and make all our company videos viral.

From clientsfromhell.net

Funny Jokes

My cat just walked up to the paper shredder and said, “Teach me 
everything you know.”


Funny Jokes

“Just because you can’t dance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dance.” 

@yoyoha (Josh Hara)

Funny Jokes

My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned 60 and that’s the law.

—Jerry Seinfeld

Funny Jokes

Q: What do you call an Amish guy with his hand in a horse’s mouth?

A: A mechanic.