Healthyroads Says It’s Time to Get Loud About a “Silent Killer”: Tips to Recognize and Reduce the Risk of High Blood Pressure

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Get your blood pressure checked in May during National High Blood Pressure Education Month.

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The numbers are startling: In the United States, about 70 million people — 1 in 3 adults — have high blood pressure (also called hypertension). It gets worse: One-third of those with high blood pressure don’t even know they have it. This health problem, often called a “silent killer,” has no clear warning signs.

It’s time to educated – and get loud – about this silent killer during National High Blood Pressure Education Month in May. But what exactly is high blood pressure?

“As your heart pumps blood, the blood flow pushes against the walls of your blood vessels, creating normal blood pressure,” said Dr. Mary Jane Osmick, vice president and medical director of health services for Healthyroads, the award-winning wellness subsidiary of American Specialty Health Incorporated. “But, when your heart is working harder than normal to pump your blood through your body, it creates high blood pressure, which can harm your heart, blood vessels and organs.”

High blood pressure can be diagnosed at your doctor's office using a simple arm cuff and a measuring device. A normal blood pressure range is generally below 120/80. If your reading is high, your doctor may ask you to come back for repeat checks, or may order tests to make sure your high blood pressure is not caused by another condition.

“The good news is that simple lifestyle changes can reduce your risk of high blood pressure, as well as improve overall health and quality of life,” added Dr. Osmick.

Here are seven tips to help reduce the risk of high blood pressure:

1.    Maintain a healthy weight.
Check with your health care provider to make sure you are at a healthy weight. If you need to lose weight, lose it slowly using a healthy eating and exercise plan. Resist the temptation to jump on the latest fad diet, which may promise rapid weight loss but actually set you up for failure long-term.

2.    Create a healthy eating plan.
Keep it simple by incorporating more fresh whole fruits, vegetables and grains into each meal and reducing processed, prepackaged foods that may be high in saturated fats, sodium and sugars. Keep a food diary to track what you eat and drink, and to stay focused on your healthy eating goals.

3.    Get active by making exercise fun.
This is easier than you might think: Just take part in a physical activity for a total of 30 minutes most days of the week. If walking or jogging seem difficult to do on your own, join a group or walk with your family. Gardening, dancing, and playing tag with the kids are all fun activities! Pick something you like and will enjoy regularly, and then stick with it.

4.    Reduce sodium intake.
Halt the salt! Use spices, herbs, garlic and onions to add flavor to your meals instead of sodium. Reduce prepackaged foods that are often filled with hidden sodium, such as snack foods, some cereals, canned soups and vegetables, processed cheese and meat, and condiments like ketchup.

5.    Stop smoking.
Quit smoking. Smoking injures the walls of your blood vessels and speeds up hardening of the arteries, which can be a factor in high blood pressure. If your company or health plan offers a tobacco cessation program, do yourself a favor and enroll in it.

6.    Reduce alcohol intake.
Drinking alcohol can raise your blood pressure and add unneeded calories. If you drink, limit yourself to no more than one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men.

7.    Take your medication.
If your doctor prescribes drugs to help lower your blood pressure, do as instructed. And remember: drugs are still no substitute for a healthy lifestyle. The two together can help lower blood pressure.

If you haven’t had your blood pressure checked recently, call your doctor and make an appointment. Don’t let this silent killer go unchecked.

About Healthyroads, Inc.
Healthyroads, Inc., a subsidiary of American Specialty Health Incorporated (ASH), offers a wide range of population health solutions, including: the award-winning Healthyroads® telephone-based lifestyle and health coaching programs, member engagement promotions, program management, health risk assessments, biometric screenings, claims analytics, risk stratification, incentive management plans, competitive group challenges, worksite wellness programs and/or an integrated online wellness portal, Healthyroads serves nearly 5.5 million members nationally. For more information about the programs, visit or call 800-848-3555. Follow us on Facebook at, YouTube at, Pinterest at, Twitter at @Healthyroads and Instagram at @Healthyroads.

About American Specialty Health
American Specialty Health Incorporated (ASH) is one of the nation’s premier independent, privately-owned specialty health services organizations, providing specialty health care networks and programs, fitness and exercise programs, and population health solutions for health plans, insurance carriers and employer groups. Operating from offices in San Diego, California, Southlake (Dallas), Texas, Carmel (Indianapolis), Indiana, and Columbia, South Carolina, ASH has more than 1,100 employees and administers services for more than 33 million members nationwide. Products offered through ASH and its subsidiaries include Healthyroads®, FitnessCoachTM, Active&Fit®, ExerciseRewardsTM and others. For more information about ASH, visit or call 800-848-3555. Follow us on Twitter at @ASHCompanies or on LinkedIn.

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Lisa Freeman