Could you fall victim to a silent killer? High blood pressure typically has no signs or symptoms. About 74.5 million people in the United States have high blood pressure, which increases the risk for heart disease and stroke, the first and third leading causes of death. The month of May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month, and now is a great time to schedule that annual physical to make sure you and your children are not at risk. High blood pressure affects about 50 million–or one in four–adults.
Who Has High Blood Pressure?
● Almost 90% of adults aged 45–64 years will develop high blood pressure during their lifetime.
● One of every three U.S. adults aged 20 years or older have hypertension.
● Nearly one of five people have hypertension and are not aware of it.
Health Impact of High Blood Pressure
● High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure, and kidney disease.
● High blood pressure was a primary or contributing cause of death for 326,000 Americans in 2006.
● A diet high in sodium (salt) increases the risk for higher blood pressure. About 77% of the sodium Americans consume comes from processed and restaurant foods.
Blood pressure is written as two numbers. The first (systolic) number represents the pressure when the heart beats. The second (diastolic) number represents the pressure when the heart rests between beats. To help prevent hypertension, blood pressure must be lowered to less than 140/90 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury). The following is a classification system for blood pressure:
Normal blood pressure systolic: less than 120 mmHg and
diastolic: less than 80 mmHg
Prehypertension systolic: 120–139 mmHg or
diastolic: 80–89 mmHg
High blood pressure systolic: 140 mmHg or higher or
diastolic: 90 mmHg or higher or taking antihypertensive medication
At Swift County Benson Hospital, we take blood pressure checks seriously. Our home health department measures HBP with every visit, looks at patterns on how it affects the body, and gives patients lifestyle tools on how to control high blood pressure.
Preventing and Controlling High Blood Pressure
● Have your blood pressure checked regularly.
● Maintain a normal body weight (body mass index of 18.5-24.9 which is kilograms divided by height in meters squared).
● Keep up physical activity (2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking) every week and muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).
● Follow a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and low in sodium.
● Quit smoking.
● If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation (≤ 2 drinks per day for men and ≤ 1 drinks per day for women).
Have blood pressure checked and, if it’s high, ask your provider about adjusting medication and make the necessary lifestyle changes to bring it to below 140/90.