If You're Between 50 and 80, You Should Be Doing This Daily, Doctors Say
This everyday habit could transform your health.
As we age, our odds of developing a serious health condition increase, making medical care a bigger priority in day-to-day life. Thankfully, establishing certain health habits in midlife could help prevent major health episodes later. In particular, there's a simple habit that takes just minutes out of your day, and which could help alert you to a long list of serious illnesses. Read on to find out which one thing you should be doing daily if you're between the ages of 50 and 80—and why many of us don't do it.
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High blood pressure can wreak havoc on your health.
Though you may not notice symptoms of high blood pressure, hypertension can lead to a range of serious illnesses. In fact, the Mayo Clinic notes that high blood pressure "can quietly damage the body for years before symptoms develop. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to disability, a poor quality of life, or even a deadly heart attack or stroke." Additionally, untreated high blood pressure has been linked to increased incidence of dementia, aneurysm, heart disease, kidney damage, vision loss, sexual dysfunction, and more.
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If you're between 50 and 80 years old, do this daily.
A recent study published in the journal JAMA Network Open says that if you're between the ages of 50 and 80 years old, you are at increased risk of developing hypertension, and at "higher risk of adverse outcomes from uncontrolled BP [blood pressure] than younger adults."
That's why some experts suggest checking your blood pressure daily—even if you experience no symptoms of the disorder. "Home BP monitoring is associated with moderate decreases in blood pressure and is cost-effective," the study states. "Our results suggest that protocols should be developed to educate patients about the importance of self-measured blood pressure monitoring (SBPM) and sharing readings with clinicians and the frequency that SBPM should be performed."
The researchers also pointed out that only 48 percent of people who should regularly check their blood pressure at home currently do so—and that even fewer people relay that information to their medical team. The reason may be that they are unaware of its benefits: Just 61 percent of survey respondents who had a known case of hypertension, or a condition that can cause hypertension, were advised by their physicians to check their blood pressure at home.
Try these tips for at-home monitoring.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), consistency is key when it comes to monitoring your blood pressure at home. "It's important to take the readings at the same time each day, such as morning and evening," the organization notes, adding that you should always record your numbers on a tracking sheet for future reference. By taking two to three readings one minute apart during each BP monitoring session, you can get the most accurate reading, the organization adds.
The AHA also notes that it's important to avoid any factors which may influence your blood pressure. They suggest emptying your bladder five minutes before taking your readings and not smoking, drinking, or exercising within the 30 minutes prior. Sit still, and be sure to remove any clothing that acts as a barrier between you and your blood pressure monitor.
Here's how to lower your blood pressure.
Besides monitoring your blood pressure regularly and sharing that information with your doctor, it's also important to take concrete measures to lower your blood pressure if it's high. You may be able to do this by reducing your weight through a healthy diet and regular exercise, quitting smoking, limiting your alcohol intake, managing stress, sleeping well, and reducing your sodium intake.
Doctors may also prescribe medication, or recommend that you use a breath training device to help lower your blood pressure. Speak with your doctor for more information on how to reduce your risk of hypertension, or to treat an existing case.