May is National High Blood Pressure Month..Have You Had Your’s Checked?

Posted on May 2, 2011

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Did you know that high blood pressure, also known as hypertension,

 

affects 1 out of 4 people in the United States?

 

It is a serious illness that can lead to a number of life threatening diseases if left untreated. High blood pressure damages your blood vessels. This raises your risk of stroke, kidney failure, heart disease and heart attack. Being aware and informed is one of the best ways to learn how to avoid high blood pressure.

 
Who is at risk for high blood pressure? High blood pressure can affect anyone, however some people are more likely to have high blood pressure than others. These include:

  • African Americans

  • People over age 55

  • People with a family history of high blood pressure

Also, your chances of having high blood pressure are higher if you:

  • Are overweight

  • Eat foods high in salt

  • Do not get regular exercise

  • Smoke

  • Drink alcohol heavily

 

What are the symptoms of high blood pressure? High blood pressure generally has no symptoms. The only way to know for sure is to get your blood pressure checked by a doctor. After age 18, have your blood pressure checked at least once every 2 years. Do it more often if you have had high blood pressure in the past.

 
Can high blood pressure be treated? Medicine can be used to treat high blood pressure. However, the first step in treatment begins with making certain lifestyle changes that lower your blood pressure. These changes include:

  • Don’t smoke cigarettes or use any tobacco product.

  • Lose weight if you’re overweight.

  • Exercise regularly.

  • Eat a healthy diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables and is low in fat.

  • Limit your sodium, alcohol and caffeine intake.

  • Try relaxation techniques

 

If you would like to know more about high blood pressure, check out this interactive tutorial  from Medline Plus. It is also available in Spanish.

 

 Remember, the only way to know for sure if you have high blood pressure is to get it checked by your doctor. If you need help finding a doctor, call the Mayor’s Health Line at 617-534-5050.

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