Health Topics

Christian Family Health Care Centers

Diana M Bridges MD

Hypertension is a leading cause of chronic heart disease, cerebral vascular disease, peripheral vascular disease and chronic kidney failure. High blood pressure increases with age but can occur at a very young age. Several factors may contribute to the development of hypertension which we can control and there are other factors such as genetics or family history which we have no control of but allows us to screen early. Some of the things that we can do to control our blood pressure involves dietary changes, regular exercise, smoking cessation, limiting alcohol consumption to a glass per day, and understanding the importance of control and monitoring by your primary care health provider.


Dietary changes include reduced sodium in the diet. The recommended dietary sodium limit should be no more than 1,500mg/day and potassium requirement 4,700mg/day. Sodium levels can be found on all food labels.


Regular moderate exercise like brisk walking for 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week will help keep the blood pressure under control, reduce your weight and also reduce stress. Consult your physician for the recommended exercise that fits your health needs.

Smoking cessation has been associated not only with a reduction in hypertension but also a reduced risk of lung cancer and peripheral vascular disease. Discuss with your doctor what’s available that fits your health needs. In many cases dual therapy i.e. patches with lozenges work. There are also oral agents available.


Although it has been shown that alcohol helps reduce hypertension due to the grape seed extract in wine that produces antioxidant effects on the blood vessel walls and the increases in good cholesterol, too much can be harmful and even increase your blood pressure. The latest recommendation is one glass of wine per day not too exceed more than 2 glasses of standard alcohol (alcohol 10gms) on a given day. Consult your physician to determine if you should consume alcohol because there are many medications and health reasons where alcohol is a contraindication and can be very harmful.


So what’s your number? When you’re out in public shopping and see a BP machine, take advantage of this opportunity and write down your reading. Outpatient readings are even more important and diagnosing of hypertension than the office visit. If you can, purchase a machine and regularly check your BP and with your office visit present your readings so your physician can compare it with the office readings. So where do you fit?


Normal- BP<120/80

Prehypertension- BP 120-139/80-89

Hypertension Stage 1-BP>140-159/90-99

Hypertension Stage 2-BP>160/100


Discuss your measurements with your primary care physician. Usually treatment begins with exercise and life style modifications but many people also require medication. Control hypertension before end stage organ damage occurs.



Diana M Bridges, MD