Steps to Better Heart Health for People with Sickle Cell Disease
People with sickle cell disease (SCD) are at greater risk than the general population for high blood pressure. High blood pressure often increases the workload of the heart and blood vessels, which can cause complications. Share your medical history with your healthcare team so it can properly identify and treat any complications of SCD you currently have or may develop. Your healthcare team may include your primary care provider, SCD provider, and any other healthcare specialists. Below are steps you can take for better heart health.
High Blood Pressure
Know your numbers. Ask your provider about your blood pressure reading at each visit. Keep track of this information and talk to your provider if your blood pressure reading is above 120/80 mm Hg.
If your blood pressure is higher than 120/80 mm Hg, your provider will likely prescribe blood pressure medicine to lower your risk for complications. Learn more about safe use of medicines »
If you have high blood pressure, you can help lower it by doing the following:
- Be physically active. Adults should get 30 minutes of exercise, such as brisk walking or bicycling, 5 days a week. Children and adolescents should get 1 hour of physical activity every day. Learn more ways to be physically active »
- Eat healthy. Talk with your healthcare team about eating a variety of foods rich in potassium, fiber, and protein, and low in salt (sodium) and saturated fat. Learn more about healthy eating and nutrition »
- Quit smoking. Smoking raises your blood pressure and puts you at higher risk for heart attack and stroke. Your doctor can suggest ways to help you quit. Learn more about tobacco use and quitting »
- Limit how much alcohol you drink. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men. Learn more about alcohol »
- Get enough sleep. Make sure to get 7 hours of sleep or more every night. Learn how to get better sleep »
This information is based on ASH SCD Guidelines: Cardiopulmonary and Kidney Diseaseexternal icon.