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Heart Health - Managing High Blood Pressure In Winter

El Centro, California (NAPSI) - Fall and winter months can bring busy schedules and seasonal  illnesses that make it difficult to manage high blood pressure (HBP).

The good  news is there are simple, practical steps you can take to manage the  condition year-round and enhance your health.

By managing your blood pressure, you can lower your risk of heart attack,  heart failure, stroke, peripheral artery disease and kidney disease.

Here are 10 tips from the American Heart Association to assist you in  maintaining a healthy blood pressure level.

1. Stay informed. It’s estimated that nearly 20 percent of those with HBP  are unaware of their condition. This symptomless disease could leave you with  substantial health problems. If you don’t know if you have it, see a health  care professional to be tested.

2. Take your prescriptions. If you are on prescription medication for high  blood pressure, take it regularly and consult your health care provider  before taking any over-the-counter medications or supplements. Use a labeled  pillbox to help you keep track of your medicines during the busy fall and  winter months.

3. Eat a healthy diet. Aim to eat a diet that’s rich in fruits, vegetables,  whole-grain and high-fiber foods, and fat-free and low-fat dairy products,  and reduce sugar and sodium. If your holiday meal traditions aren’t as  healthy as you’d like, modify ingredients or add a healthy new dish to the  menu.

4. Get 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week. Exercise not  only helps control your blood pressure, it also helps you manage your weight,  strengthen your heart and manage stress. When the temperature drops, find  safe, indoor places to exercise.

5. Maintain a healthy weight. If you are overweight, a little weight loss  can result in a lot of health gains. Even a small weight loss—10 pounds—can  help to reduce blood pressure.

6. Avoid sudden exertion. People who are outdoors in cold weather should  avoid sudden exertion, like lifting a heavy shovel full of snow. Even walking  through heavy, wet snow or snowdrifts can strain a person’s heart.

7. Avoid tobacco smoke. Smoking cigarettes increases blood pressure,  decreases exercise tolerance and increases the tendency for blood to clot.  Make quitting a resolution for the holidays—and stick with it!

8. Stay well. Some illnesses, like influenza, pose added risks for people  with heart disease. Wash your hands regularly, and make sure your doctor  knows about any medicines or supplements you’re taking in order to make the  best treatment decisions. Patients with heart disease should receive the flu  vaccine.

9. Read labels on cold medicines. Winter colds may have you reaching for  remedies at the drugstore. You should always read the labels on  over-the-counter (OTC) medications, especially if you have blood pressure  greater than 120/80 mmHg. People with high blood pressure should be aware  that decongestants may raise blood pressure or interfere with the  effectiveness of some prescribed blood pressure medications. Check the sodium  content, too. Some OTC medicines contain more than 1,500 mg—a whole day’s  allowance.

10. If you drink, limit alcohol. Men should limit alcohol to no more than  two drinks per day and women to one drink per day. Drinking too much alcohol  can raise your blood pressure. Your doctor may advise you to reduce the  amount of alcohol you drink.

Learn more online at www.heart.org/HBP.  Merck Consumer Care, maker of Coricidin® HBP, is a sponsor of the  American Heart Association’s High Blood Pressure website.