Sharecare Top 5: Fighting a Silent Killer

woman speaking with doctor

What if there was a 1 in 3 chance that a killer was stalking you? And what if the criminal was so quiet, it never even crossed your mind that you were in danger? High blood pressure, or hypertension, is known as a “silent killer” because it rarely causes symptoms but, if untreated, can be deadly. One out of three Americans has high blood pressure, and more than half of them don’t know it. But you can keep yourself safe. Here are five ways to make sure the killer doesn’t strike.

1 . Get Checked: Since high blood pressure often has no symptoms, it’s critical to get your blood pressure checked regularly. Learn your risk by taking the RealAge Blood Pressure and Heart Health assessment. Then watch Merle Myerson, MD, explain why tracking your blood pressure – and treating it if necessary – protects your heart, brain and organs throughout your body.

2. Ditch the Stress: Many of us hit the ground running every day, with stress nipping at our heels even before we’ve sipped our first cup of coffee. Unfortunately, chronic stress can increase your risk for hypertension and even make a stroke more likely. But there’s a bright side, say Mehmet Oz, MD, and Michael Roizen, MD: Simple changes in behavior can relieve some of that stress and take the pressure off. Still feeling tense? This 12-Step Stress Management Plan will help you find your way to calm.

3. DASH When You Dine: Diet can play a huge role in keeping your blood pressure at healthy levels. The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) can cut your BP – and, as a bonus, may reduce your weight, too. (Losing just 10 to 15 pounds can make a huge difference in your blood pressure.) Some people may need to follow a sodium-restricted diet, as well. Check out our High Blood Pressure and Hypertension Center for more information about blood-pressure-friendly eating.

4. Keep Moving: Not only is exercise a great way to lower your stress levels; it can also keep your blood pressure down. Watch this video for exercises that will keep you fit and healthy and help lower your blood pressure.

5. Give It a Rest: Sometimes, the best thing you can do for your health is nothing at all – 8 lovely hours of nothing. Read how poor sleep can make it harder to control your blood pressure, then get the tools and information you need for a good night’s rest at our Sleep Disorders Center.