Though some 78 million Americans have hypertension (commonly known as high blood pressure,) there are still many misconceptions about the condition. Here are 6 high blood pressure myths you shouldn’t believe.
Myth: High Blood Pressure Only Affects Men
High blood pressure is an equal-opportunity disease, meaning it affects women just as often as men. In fact, women who have been through menopause are more likely to develop high blood pressure than men.
Myth: I Don’t Have Symptoms, So I Must Not Have High Blood Pressure
According to the American Heart Association, many people with high blood pressure experience no symptoms. But if left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to deadly health problems. High blood pressure is a progressive condition that causes damage to your body’s blood vessels and can cause a stroke, heart attack or congestive heart failure.
Myth: I Don’t Have to Worry About High Blood Pressure Until I’m Older
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25 percent of men and 19 percent of women with high blood pressure are between the ages of 35 and 44. While the risk of high blood pressure increases as you age, you can develop the condition at any time in your life.
Myth: The Only Way to Correct High Blood Pressure Is With Medication
While prescription medications are necessary for many people, lifestyle changes can also help control high blood pressure. These include losing excess weight, quitting smoking, exercising regularly and eating a diet low in fat and salt.
Myth: Stress Causes High Blood Pressure
Stress can increase your blood pressure temporarily, but it isn’t the cause of a long-term increase. Stress-related behaviors such as drinking alcohol, lack of sleep, overeating and neglecting to take medications are more likely causes of high blood pressure.
Myth: High Blood Pressure Runs in My Family, So I’m Guaranteed to Get It
While people with a family history of high blood pressure are more likely to develop it, lifestyle changes can help you avoid it. To lower your risk, maintain a healthy weight, exercise on a regular basis, eat a heart-healthy diet that includes less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day, control your stress and don’t smoke.
If you’re worried about your blood pressure, make sure to talk with your doctor about your specific risk factors and ways to decrease your chances of developing hypertension.
Advice or recommendations are for informational or educational purposes only, not a substitute for a visit or consultation with your doctor.