Veterans Health graphic

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is advising veterans to manage their hypertension during the winter months. That's good advice for both veterans and the population at large.

The VA noted that a change in routine, family visits, traveling, illnesses, holiday menus and financial concerns can all stop your best efforts at keeping high blood pressure under control. Drastic changes can put you at risk for heart attack or stroke.

Blood pressure is a measure that is placed on the arteries. As the heart pumps blood with oxygen and nutrients out to the body, it creates pressure in the arterial system, like a pipeline.

Risk factors for high blood pressure include a family history of high blood pressure; those who are African American; smoking; a diet high in salt and fried foods; overweight; diabetes, heart or kidney disease; increased stress; greater than two alcoholic drinks per day; sedentary lifestyle; and history of stroke or heart attack.

The VA also noted that people can have hypertension not know it, which why it is called a "silent killer."

Here are some VA tips to help you control your blood pressure:

 Choose heart-healthy foods — select low-salt, low fat foods.

 Stay at a healthy weight — ask your health care provider how many calories to eat a day.

 Get up and get active — find activities you enjoy that can be done alone or with friends or family.

 Manage stress — make time to relax and enjoy life. Find time to laugh.

Limit alcohol and quit smoking — men should have no more than two alcoholic drinks, and women one, per day.

You can find more details and tips at the VA website, https://www.veteranshealthlibrary.va.gov/142,82044_VA

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