HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE

WHAT IS HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE (HYPERTENSION)?

With every heartbeat, blood circulates and presses against the walls of your arteries (blood vessels).  Blood pressure is the measurement of the force of the blood against the walls of the arteries and their resistance.  If this force is stronger than it should be, it is called hypertension or high blood pressure.  Hypertension is known as the "Silent Killer" because it usually produces NO symptoms.

 
Take preventative measures to live a healthier, longer life!

Blood pressure measurement
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY BLOOD PRESSURE
IS NORMAL OR TOO HIGH?

Your blood pressure can be taken by a health care professional.  The procedure will reveal two numbers which will indicate your blood pressure score.
  • SYSTOLIC - The top number in your blood pressure score measures the pressure when your heart beats.

  • DIASTOLIC - The bottom number measures the pressure when your heat rests between beats.


 KNOW YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE NUMBER!
  • Less than 120/80  - Normal
  • 120/80 to 139/89 - Prehypertension 
  • 140/90 or higher  - High Blood Pressure
If your score is in the Prehypertension range, your blood pressure could be a problem. Consult a physician NOW!  Hypertension can be controlled and life threatening complications can be avoided.

If your score is rated as High Blood Pressure, consult your physician NOW!  With treatment complications are preventable and life expectancy is near normal.  Without proper treatment, you are at risk of stroke, kidney disease and heart attack. Any of these conditions can cause death!
Watch your blood pressure!
For every 20/10 mm Hg increase in blood pressure, your risk for stroke, kidney disease or heart attack DOUBLES!  According to the Seventh Report of the Joint National Institute of Health Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of High Blood Pressure.



ARE YOU AT RISK FOR HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE?
Your risk increases if you are:
  • Overweight
  • Over 60 years old
  • Under excessive stress
  • A smoker
  • A drinker (more than 2 alcohol drinks per day)
  • Eating a diet high in saturated fat and sodium 
  • Sedentary (little or no exercise)
  • Using contraceptive pills
  • Using steroids, some appetite suppressants or decongestants
Other risk factors include:
  • Family history of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke or kidney failure
  • African Americans have a higher rate of hypertension
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS OF
BLOOD PRESSURE CRISIS (ATTACK)

There are usually no symptoms of high blood pressure in the early stages.  However, if you have hypertension, the following symptoms could signal an attack:
  • Headache
  • Coughing blood
  • Nose bleeds
  • Severe shortness of breath
  • Confusion
Remember, if you have hypertension,  work with your doctor to keep it under control. With treatment, complications from this serious condition can be avoided.  

Normal life expectancy can be achieved with lifestyle changes and/or medication.  Some drugs may have side effects.  Communication with your doctor can help minimize these effects.  There are several drugs of choice and one should work well for you.



WHAT CAN I DO TO PREVENT AND CONTROL HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE?

Weight reduction:
  • Maintain a normal body weight.  If you are overweight,  eat a diet low in saturated fats, sodium and  cholesterol with smaller portions.  See our DIET DO's & DON'TS section.
Limit your alcohol intake:
  • One drink per day for women - two drinks per day for men
Take your medication:
  • Take your high blood pressure medication as prescribed by your doctor.
Reduce your sodium intake:

Aim for a diet with less than 2.4 grams (2400mg) of sodium per day.  Here are some examples of sodium content in food:

  • - Canned chicken noodle soup (850 mg)
  • - Wheat bran muffins with raisins (179 mg)
  • - Chocolate chip donut (560 mg)
  • - Corn Flakes (203) mg
  • - Fast food hamburger (534 mg) single patty, (1310 mg) quarter pounder large
  • - 1 teaspoon salt of salt (2400 mg)
  • - Pepperoni pizza medium slice (760 mg)
  • - 3oz. cooked salmon (56 mg)