May is High Blood Pressure Awareness Month

Dr. Jim Surrell, Journal columnist

According to the American Heart Association, more than 100 million adults in the U.S. have high blood pressure.

This number represents nearly half of all our adults here in the United States. The medical term for high blood pressure is hypertension. Recent statistics tell us that the death rate from high blood pressure increased by nearly 11 percent in the U.S. between 2005 and 2015, and the actual number of deaths from high blood pressure in the U.S. in the year 2015 was nearly 80,000 USA adults.

High blood pressure also affects nearly a third of the adult world wide population and is the most common world wide cause of cardiovascular disease-related deaths.

The following information is from the United States National Institutes of Health. High blood pressure is a common disease that develops when blood flows through your arteries at higher-than-normal pressures. Your blood pressure is made up of two numbers: systolic and diastolic.

Systolic pressure is the pressure when the ventricles pump blood out of the heart.

Diastolic pressure is the pressure between heartbeats, when the heart is more relaxed and filling with blood. For most adults, a healthy blood pressure is usually less than 120 over 80 millimeters of mercury, which is written as your systolic pressure reading over your diastolic pressure reading, or 120/80 mm Hg.

If a person’s systolic pressure is 130 or higher, or if the diastolic pressure is consistently greater than 80, then the health care provider will likely recommend medical treatment.

Mild to moderate high blood pressure will usually not cause any personal symptoms. You usually don’t have symptoms from high blood pressure until it starts to cause serious health problems. That is why it is very important to have your blood pressure checked regularly. Your doctor will diagnose you with high blood pressure if you have consistently high blood pressure readings. You may also need to take medicines. Controlling or lowering blood pressure can help prevent serious health problems such as chronic kidney disease, heart attack, heart failure, stroke, and possibly vascular dementia.

Here are seven highly recommended lifestyle tips to prevent and to help manage high blood pressure. A heart-healthy lifestyle can help prevent high blood pressure from developing. The following are some proven recommendations that will indeed contribute to a healthy lifestyle. 1. Choose heart-healthy foods that are lower in sodium (salt) and are rich in potassium. Fruits and vegetables are high in potassium. 2. Avoid excess consumption of alcohol. 3. Get regular physical activity and be aware that even a modest amount of increased activity and exercise can make a difference and help reduce your blood pressure. 4. Aim for a healthy personal weight, and if you are excessively overweight or even obese, review your options to treat this with your health care provider without delay. 5. Absolutely quit smoking and avoid second-hand smoke. 6. Manage your personal stress, and if you are continuously faced with this, seek professional help without delay. 7. Get enough good quality sleep, and this generally means 7 to 9 hours each and every night for adults.

The bottom line is to be aware that mild high blood pressure will often be without any personal symptoms. Therefore, it is always very important for all of us to have our blood pressure reliably checked on a periodic basis, and this is also an important topic to discuss with your health care provider.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dr. Jim Surrell is the author of “The ABC’s For Success In All We Do” and the “SOS (Stop Only Sugar) Diet” books. Requests for health topics for this column are encouraged. Contact Dr. Surrell by email at sosdietdoc@gmail.com.


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