Posted on May 23 2019
May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month, and the goal is to raise awareness about the impact high blood pressure can have on your health. High blood pressure affects one in three Americans, yet many people who have this condition, don't even know they have it. What you don't know about high blood pressure can harm you, and that is why it's imperative to become properly educated on the dangers of high blood pressure.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure increases the risk for heart disease and strokes, which are the leading causes of death in the United States. Fortunately, high blood pressure is both treatable and preventable. To lower your risk, you need to get your blood pressure checked regularly and take action to control your blood pressure if it is too high.
To understand about high blood pressure, we first have to know what blood pressure is. Written as two figures, blood pressure is measured as the pressure when the heart has pumped (systolic), and when the heart is in between beats (diastolic).
When the heart pumps blood, blood pressure is higher than when it is between beats. The systolic measurement will be higher than the diastolic measurement. Examples of normal, at risk, and high blood pressure levels are below:
Normal Blood Pressure Levels: Systolic < 120mm HG // Diastolic 80mm HG
At Risk Blood Pressure Levels: Systolic 120-139mm HG // Diastolic 80-89mm HG
High Blood Pressure Levels: Systolic 140mm HG or higher // Diastolic 90mm HG or higher.
Health Risks of High Blood Pressure
Also known as Hypertension, high blood pressure increases the risk of serious diseases and conditions, such as heart disease and stroke. In the United States alone, heart disease is the most common cause of death, while stroke is the 3rd leading cause. Other risk factors of high blood pressure include: congestive heart failure and kidney disease.
High blood pressure can have a large impact on a persons life. In the United States, approximately 1 in 3 adults have high blood pressure, however, most people aren't aware that they have this condition due to a lack of signs or symptoms.
Surprising Facts About High Blood Pressure
1. High Blood Pressure May Be Linked to Dementia
Recent studies have shown that high blood pressure is linked to a higher risk for dementia. Some evidence suggests having uncontrolled high blood pressure during midlife (ages 45 to 65) creates a higher risk for dementia later in life. Timing matters. It is never too early to start thinking about your blood pressure and taking steps to manage it.
2. Age Doesn't Discriminate With High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure doesn't just happen to older adults. About 1 in 4 men and nearly 1 in 5 women ages 35 to 44 have high blood pressure. High blood pressure, as we know, is the leading cause of stroke, a condition that is sadly on the rise among younger people. Experts think the increased risk for stroke among young adults is a direct result of the rising rates of obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes - all are conditions that are preventable and treatable.
Young people should get their blood pressure checked at least once a year, during your yearly physical exam. You can get your blood pressure checked at a doctor's office, a pharmacy, or at many grocery or drug stores.
3. High Blood Pressure Usually Doesn't Have Any Symptoms
High blood pressure is sometimes called the silent killer. Most people with high blood pressure don't have any symptoms, such as sweating or headaches. Due to the lack of symptoms, people don't think that they need to get their blood pressure checked. Even if you feel fine, your health still may be at risk. Talk to your doctor about your risk for high blood pressure.
4. Many People Who Have High Blood Pressure Don't Know It
About 11 million adults in the United States with high blood pressure aren't even aware that they have it, and therefore, they aren't receiving treatment to control their blood pressure. Most people with uncontrolled blood pressure have health insurance and visit a health care provider at least twice a year, but the condition remains undiagnosed, hidden from the doctor and patient. The CDC is working with providers to find patients with high blood pressure who are hiding in plain sight. Ask your provider what your blood pressure numbers mean and whether they are too high. Stick to your treatment plan and follow your doctor's advice if you are diagnosed with high blood pressure.
5. Women & Minorities Face Unique Risks With High Blood Pressure
Women with high blood pressure who become pregnant are more likely to have complications during pregnancy than those with normal blood pressure. High blood pressure can harm a mother's kidneys and other organs, and it can cause low birth weight and early delivery. Certain types of birth control can also raise a woman's risk for high blood pressure. Women with high blood pressure who want to become pregnant should work with their health care team to lower their blood pressure before becoming pregnant.
African American men and women also have higher rates of high blood pressure more than any other race of ethnic group. These individuals are also more likely to be hospitalized for high blood pressure. Experts think this is related to higher rates of obesity, diabetes, and stroke among this group. Lifestyle changes, such as reducing sodium in your diet, exercise, and reducing stress can help lower blood pressure.
Reducing High Blood Pressure
High Blood Pressure Education Month encourages people to look at various lifestyle factors which may be contributing to high blood pressure. It is well documented that high levels of sodium is linked to high blood pressure. In the United States, the majority of people consume more than twice the level of recommended sodium intake. Guidelines recommend up to 2,300mg of sodium per day for an adult.
Those at a higher risk should consume significantly less - up to 1,500mg a day. Higher risk groups include those who have diabetes, kidney disease, existing high blood pressure, and some ethnic groups. It is also recommended that people eat potassium rich foods, which can help lower blood pressure. Potassium rich foods include: fish, green leafy vegetables, bananas, citrus fruits, and potatoes.
Lifestyle changes will also help reduce blood pressure. Changes, including regular exercise, maintain a healthy body weight, quitting smoking, and following a healthy low sodium diet rich in fruit and vegetables. Here at Mountainside Medical Equipment, we offer several affordable blood pressure monitors available for you, making it convenient to monitor your blood pressure at home.
Please consult with your doctor or other qualified healthcare professional before taking any medications, supplements, or beginning a health regimen.