May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month. Did you know that around 85 million Americans have high blood pressure, with some who don’t even know it? If you have high blood pressure, you are not alone.
High Blood Pressure, or Hypertension, is known as the “Silent Killer” for a variety of reasons, according to The American Heart Association:
- “Most of the time there are no obvious symptoms.”
- “Certain physical traits and lifestyle choices can put you at a greater risk for developing high blood pressure.”
- “When left untreated, the damage that high blood pressure does to your circulatory system is a significant contributing factor to heart attack, stroke and other health threats.”
What blood pressure levels constitute Hypertension?
There are essentially four stages of blood pressure levels, ranging from Normal to Stage 2 Hypertension. According to MayoClinic, the following chart can help to determine your category:
|Top Number (Systolic) in mm Hg||Bottom Number (Diastolic) in mm Hg||Category|
|Below 120||Below 80||Normal|
|Between 120-139||Between 80-89||Pre-hypertension|
|Between 140-159||Between 90-99||Stage 1 Hypertension|
|160 or Higher||100 or higher||Stage 2 Hypertension|
Who gets High Blood Pressure?
The short answer? Anyone can have high blood pressure, even young adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since there are normally no visible signs of hypertension, it’s important to get your blood pressure checked by a doctor regularly. More rare signs that an individual might experience are sweating, headaches, and shortness of breath. Do not count of these signs to determine your blood pressure levels, however, since the vast majority of hypertension cases have no symptoms.
How can I treat Hypertension?
High Blood Pressure is treatable. According to the American Heart Association, there are a variety of actions you can take to help lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease or stroke. Actions include:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Limiting salt intake
- Limiting alcohol intake
- Taking your medications properly and regularly
Maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle is important in order to fight against hypertension and the serious heart conditions that come with it. Eating healthy and exercising regularly are great ways to maintain bodily health. A heart-healthy diet, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, should consist of foods that are low in sodium, low in saturated and trans fats, and rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium, fiber and protein.
If you aren’t sure about your blood pressure levels, schedule an appointment with a doctor or pharmacist to get your blood pressure checked this month. The sooner you alter your lifestyle and control your blood pressure levels, the healthier you will be. If you don’t have high blood pressure, adopting a healthy lifestyle now can help to delay or prevent high blood pressure in the future, along with a variety of other health problems.
–Emily Sanville, Digital Communications Coordinator