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Examiner
  • Blood pressure: Make control your goal

  • When was the last time you had your blood pressure checked? Do you even know what your blood pressure is? One of every three people reading this article has high blood pressure. Many don't know it, and many of those who do arent doing much about it, threatening their health and longevity.

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  • When was the last time you had your blood pressure checked? Do you even know what your blood pressure is? One of every three people reading this article has high blood pressure. Many don't know it, and many of those who do arent doing much about it, threatening their health and longevity.
    According to the Centers for Disease Control 67 million people should be working to keep their blood pressure in check each day, but more than half of all people with high blood pressure do not have their condition under control.
    May is High Blood Pressure Education Month, and its a good time to find out how to make control your goal.
    What is blood pressure?
    Blood pressure is arterial pressure: the force of blood on the walls of your blood vessels as it flows through them. Blood pressure is measured in two numbers, systolic and diastolic. These are measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). Systolic pressure (the first number) is the pressure on vessel walls when your heart beats and pumps blood out of the heart. Diastolic pressure (the second number) is the pressure that occurs when your heart relaxes between beats.
    A normal systolic pressure is 120 or below. If the systolic blood pressure is 140 or above, its considered hypertensive. A normal diastolic blood pressure number is 80 or below. A pressure 90 or higher is also considered hypertension. So, the goal is less than 120 over 80 mmHg.
    High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is often referred to the silent killer. The reason for this is the lack of significant symptoms in the majority of people with hypertension.
    Left unchecked, high blood pressure can cause:
    • A heart attack, which occurs when the blood supply to your heart is blocked and heart muscle cells die from a lack of oxygen
    • A stroke, which can occur when arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the brain become blocked or burst
    • Chest pain, also called angina
    • Heart failure, which occurs when the heart can't pump enough blood and oxygen to other organs
    • Chronic Kidney Disease, preventing the kidneys from removing wastes from blood.
    If you have high blood pressure, or think you might have it, its time to review steps you can take to get it under control:
    • Talk with your doctor about where your blood pressure should be.
    • Set a goal to lower your pressure with your doctor and then discuss how you can reach your goal.
    • Work with your doctor to make sure you meet that goal.
    • Take your blood pressure medication as directed. If you are having trouble, ask your doctor what you can do to make it easier. Discuss your medication schedule with your doctor if you are taking multiple drugs at different times of the day. Its important to also discuss any side effects you are feeling or the cost of your medicine. These road blocks can be overcome.
    Page 2 of 2 - Other steps you can take to get and keep your blood pressure under control are:
    • Quit smoking - and if you dont smoke, dont start.
    • Reduce sodium. Most Americans consume too much sodium, and it raises their risk for high blood pressure. Learn about tips to reduce your sodium.
    • Participate in 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week.
    • Reach and maintain a healthy body weight by eating a healthy diet, high in fruits and vegetables and low in sodium, saturated fats, trans fat and cholesterol.
    • Manage your stress.
    • Limit alcohol consumption to no more than one drink each day for women and two for men.
    If you have a family member or close friends with high blood pressure, help them by encouraging them to follow their plan and lifestyle changes. Support is crucial to help making control their goal.
    Michael Liston, MD, FACC, practices at Carondelet Heart Institute at St. Marys Medical Center of Blue Springs.
     
     

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