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Get Heart Smart for the Holidays by Managing Your Blood Pressure

December 17, 2012

Michelle Holmgren, Public Affairs & Community Relations Specialist
(Office) 413-967-2296 (Cell) 413-237-6743


Get heart smart for the holidays by managing your blood pressure
Ware, MA (December 17, 2012) -With the holiday season upon us, it is important to continue to monitor your health, especially your blood pressure. According to the American Heart Association, although your blood pressure may rise for a short time while you're feeling stressed, stress is not a proven cause of high blood pressure. It’s how you respond to stress, like smoking, drinking alcohol, sleeping poorly, and eating salty junk food that can raise your blood pressure.

“The risk of developing high blood pressure also increases as you age,” said Rosario M. Nelson, NP-C. Family Nurse Practitioner, at Quabbin Adult Medicine, located at 95 Sargent Street in Belchertown. “Most cases of high blood pressure are diagnosed in men, until the age of 45. From age 45 to 54, men and women are equally at risk for high blood pressure. After the age of 54, women are actually more likely to have high blood pressure than men.”

“The concept of blood pressure is sometimes difficult to understand because it is usually described with numbers,” said Nelson. “In its simplest terms, high blood pressure ("hypertension") is a condition in which the pressure of the blood traveling through the arteries is higher than normal. This increased force can damage the walls of the circulatory system and make the heart and several other organs work harder and become damaged in the process. High blood pressure is can often be a silent process with potentially serious consequences. The good news is that hypertension is simple to diagnose and by working with you health care provider you can take steps to monitor your blood pressure, keep it under control, and when necessary it can be effectively treated with lifestyle modifications and medicine,” notes Nelson.

Adopting healthy lifestyle habits is an effective first step in both preventing and controlling high blood pressure. These steps include maintaining a healthy weight; being physically active; following a healthy eating plan, that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and lowfat dairy foods; choosing and preparing foods with less salt and sodium; and, if you drink alcoholic beverages, drinking in moderation. If lifestyle changes alone are not effective in keeping your pressure controlled, it may be necessary to add blood pressure medications.

People with high blood pressure usually experience no symptoms unless their blood pressure is extremely high, or if they have had high blood pressure for a long time. In these cases, damage may occur in major organs, such as the heart, brain, and kidneys, as well as in the small blood vessels in the eyes. It’s important to remember that if left untreated, high blood pressure may lead to serious complications.

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“If your blood pressure is extremely high, there may be certain symptoms to look out for, including, severe headache, fatigue or confusion, vision problems, chest pain, difficulty breathing, irregular heartbeat, or pounding in your chest, neck, or ears,” notes Nelson. “If you experience any of these symptoms, either go to the Emergency Room or see your primary care provider and have your blood pressure checked as soon as possible."

If you have high blood pressure, you and your health care provider will work together as a team to reduce it. Together the two of you will come up with a plan and timetable for reaching your goals and help you maintain good health,” said Nelson.

Dr. Muhammad Gul, Dr. Ronald Beauzile, Dr. Anuja Garg, and Dr. Mario Lysse, and Nurse Practitioners Suzanne Dabakis Choquette, FNP and Rosario Nelson, FNP, serve as health care providers at Baystate Medical Practices – Quabbin Adult Medicine and are presently accepting new patients. For more information or to make an appointment, call Quabbin Adut Medicine in Ware at 413-967-2324 and at 95 Sargent Street in Belchertown at 413-323-7212.

Holiday Hypertension Highlights
1. Watch your salt & sodium intake
2. Quit smoking – need help, talk to your health care provide
3. Limit alcohol – try seltzer water with a twist of lime
4. Eat fresh vegetables & fruits every day
5. Choose low-fat diary products
6. Exercise for 30 minutes each day
7. Take BP Medication as advised
8. Monitor blood pressure
9. Maintain your weight
10. Manage stress – it’s ok to say no to some holiday invitations!