Blood pressure is the force of blood on the walls of your blood vessels as blood flows through them. You may not have any symptoms, but it can damage your health in many ways.
One of three American adults has high blood pressure, also called hypertension. That’s 67 million people who have to work to keep their blood pressure in check each day. Unfortunately, more than half of people with high blood pressure do not have their condition under control.
May is High Blood Pressure Education Month, and it’s a good time to find out how to “make control your goal.”
What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the force of blood on the walls of your blood vessels as blood flows through them. Blood pressure has two numbers, systolic and diastolic, and is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). Systolic pressure is the force on the blood vessel walls when the heart beats and pumps blood out of the heart. Diastolic pressure is the force that occurs when the heart relaxes in between beats.
Keep it down in there!
Having the highest score is good in many things, but not with blood pressure—the higher your numbers, the more serious the condition.
You may not have any symptoms of high blood pressure, but it can damage your health in many ways. For instance, it can harden the arteries, decreasing the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart and brain. This reduced flow 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.
Is my blood pressure under control?
Blood pressure is considered normal when systolic pressure (the higher number) is less than 120 mmHg and diastolic pressure (the lower number) is less than 80 mmHg. People at risk for high blood pressure, often called prehypertension, have systolic pressure between 120 and 139 mmHg or diastolic between 80 and 89 mmHg. High blood pressure means systolic pressure is 140 mmHg or higher or diastolic is 90 mmHg or higher. Talk with your health care team about your personal blood pressure goal.
Make control your goal.
Of the 67 million American adults who have high blood pressure, 16 million know that they have the condition and are getting treatment, but their blood pressure still remains higher than it should be. For these individuals, awareness and treatment are not enough—that’s why CDC is asking patients, families, and health care professionals to “make control the goal.”
If you have high blood pressure, there are steps you can take to get it under control, including—
* Ask your doctor what 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. For example, you may want to discuss your medication schedule with your doctor if you are taking multiple drugs at different times of the day. Or you may want to discuss side effects you are feeling, or the cost of your medicine.
Most Americans consume too much sodium, and it raises their risk for high blood pressure. Learn about tips to reduce your sodium.
There are other healthy habits, in addition to taking your medication that can help keep your blood pressure under control—
* Achieve and maintain a healthy body weight
* Participate in 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week.
* Eat a healthy diet that is high in fruits and vegetables and low in sodium, saturated fats, trans fat, and cholesterol.
* Manage stress.
* Limit the amount of alcohol you drink (no more than one drink each day for women and two for men).
If you have a family member who has high blood pressure, you can help by taking many of the steps listed above with them. Go for walks together or cook meals with lower sodium. Make it a family affair!
For more information please visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website.