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Blood Pressure: What’s Your Number?

Blood Pressure: What’s Your Number?

AUBURN, Alabama — Approximately 75 million people in the United States have high blood pressure. This means one out of every three people is impacted by this disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control. If left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to stroke, heart attack, kidney disease, heart failure and other heath concerns. These illnesses contribute to approximately 1,000 deaths each day in the United States alone.

These staggering numbers  explain why the CDC organized a campaign to raise awareness about the negative impact high blood pressure can have on your health.

May: High Blood Pressure Awareness Month

Each year during the month of May, the CDC joins forces with other health agencies to educate communities about the risk factors associated with high blood pressure.

One of the most important aspects of this campaign is to educate citizens on their responsibility to know and understand their individual blood pressure reading. This combined effort aims to combat the effects of this disease and ultimately save lives.

The Silent Killer

Donna Shanklin, an agent with Alabama Cooperative Extension, explained that high blood pressure is known as the “silent killer” because it has no obvious symptoms until it is too late.

“The best way to protect yourself is to know and understand your blood pressure reading,” said Shanklin.

It is important to realize that high blood pressure can affect the young and old alike. Hayden Alford, a speech therapist, was diagnosed with high blood pressure at 27.

“While having a routine health screening, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure,” said Alford. “I had not experienced any symptoms and was caught completely off guard with my diagnosis.

“I now take medicine every day and with the advice of my doctor, I have made a few lifestyle changes that seem to help me manage this disease.”

Shanklin pointed out getting a blood pressure is easy and quick.

“Health care workers check blood pressure readings the same way for children, teens, and adults,” she said. “They use a gauge, stethoscope or electronic sensor, and a blood pressure cuff.

“Even so, more than 20 percent of people with high pressure don’t even know they have it.”

The Basics

To better understand why blood pressure is a good indicator of cardiovascular health, let’s start with the basics. Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps blood.

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute defines high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, as a common disease in which blood flows through the arteries at a higher than normal pressure. Knowing and understanding the numbers associated with high blood pressure, as well as other risk factors, plays a critical role in the diagnosis, treatment and maintenance of this disease.

According to the American Heart Association, a normal blood pressure reading has a top number between 90 to 100 and a bottom number that is between 60 to 80. Shanklin stresses, “high blood pressure or hypertension puts your health and quality of life in danger. Left uncontrolled or undetected, high blood pressure can lead to other health issues.”

Shanklin suggests using a chart like the one below from the American Heart Association as a guide to understanding how to interpret your reading.

Be Smart With Your Heart

National Blood Pressure Month serves as an important reminder that awareness is the key to understanding and managing this important aspect of our health.

For additional information on high blood pressure and activities sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,  visit the following links:

 

 

 Featured Image by Rob Marmion/Shutterstock.com

About Kaleigh Garner