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Hypertension and heart disease

By Meranda Schmitz, RN

During American Heart Month, we are exploring heart disease risk factors each week along with tips to help reduce your risk. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke, which are leading causes of death in the United States. Nearly half of adults in the United States (47%, or 116 million) have hypertension. The table below shows the different stages of hypertension. Take a look to find out where you fit!

Although most people with hypertension have no symptoms, others may experience the following.

  • Severe headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nosebleed
  • Severe anxiety
  • Feeling of pulsations in the neck or head

If you suffer from high blood pressure, the bad news is that it can damage your health in many ways. It can seriously hurt important organs like your heart, brain, kidneys, and eyes. The good news: in most cases, you can manage your blood pressure to lower your risk for serious health problems.







Many people with high blood pressure can lower it into a healthy range or keep their numbers in a healthy range by making lifestyle changes. Talk with your healthcare team about the following.

  • Getting at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week (about 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week)
  • Not smoking
  • Eating a healthy diet, including limiting sodium (salt) and alcohol
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Managing stress

Meeting some of these goals may seem difficult, but your provider and our Cardiopulmonary Rehab team are here to help! Schedule a wellness visit with your provider to find out your blood pressure and ask questions about your heart health. Explore CHCS Fitness Centers or other programs that can help you meet your exercise and wellness goals. Starting with small changes can make a big difference in your heart health!

Learn more about cardiac care at CHCS

Meranda Schmitz, RN, helped establish the Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation program at CHCS. She has been a nurse for 25 years and lives in Westmoreland with her husband and son. Her favorite thing about working with Cardiopulmonary Rehab patients is helping them make progress and meet their goals. Want to learn more about available programs? Reach Meranda at [email protected] or 785-889-5502.


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