The (Blood) Pressure is On
About 1 in 4 adults in the U.S. has high blood pressure, but many don’t know it. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is often called the “silent killer” because it has no obvious symptoms to indicate that something is wrong, yet it can lead to life-threatening conditions like heart attack or stroke. Evidence also suggests having uncontrolled high blood pressure creates a higher risk for a particular type of dementia later in life, known as vascular dementia. The good news is high blood pressure can be prevented or treated. Early diagnosis and healthy lifestyle changes can keep high blood pressure from seriously damaging your health.
High blood pressure doesn’t just happen to older adults, it’s also on the rise in young adults. Experts think the increased risk for this age group is a direct result of the rising rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes—conditions that are preventable and treatable.
Some of the risk factors for high blood pressure cannot be controlled, such as your age, family history, and some medical conditions including kidney disease and thyroid problems. Awareness of your risk level and making changes that matter is the best way to protect yourself.
Lower your risk for high blood pressure with heart-healthy habits like maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet, restricting sodium (salt), getting regular exercise, limiting alcohol, and reducing stress.
It is good practice to know your target blood pressure range. And while target blood pressure range will vary by age and other variables, blood pressure numbers of less than 120/80 mm Hg are considered within the normal range for adults. The American Heart Association offers helpful charts and education online at Heart.org.
There are important considerations when deciding whether to start treatment for high blood pressure, including other health conditions and overall fitness. Once confirmed with a medical diagnosis, your health care provider will work with you to find a blood pressure target that is best for your well-being and they may recommend home blood pressure monitoring, lifestyle changes and, when needed, medication.
Alana Nelson, RN is the Population Health Specialist Nurse with Barton Health. February is American Heart Month, a time to raise awareness around heart disease and the importance of routine screening. Barton Health will host a Free Blood Pressure Check Clinic on February 28, 2022 from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. upstairs in Barton’s Center for Orthopedics and Wellness at 2170B South Avenue in South Lake Tahoe. Free home blood pressure monitors will be given out (while supplies last). To schedule your 15-minute appointment, please call 530.543.5609. Walk-in appointments accommodated as able.
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