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What you don’t know about your blood pressure could kill you

World Hypertension Day is Thursday, May 17th

Knowing your blood pressure – and managing it – can help avoid health problems

American Heart AssociationNashville, TN – This  Thursday, May 17th, is World Hypertension Day. Hypertension, or high blood pressure (HBP), is a disease. More than 76 million U.S. adults have been diagnosed with HBP. It’s sometimes called “the silent killer” because high blood pressure has no symptoms, so you may not be aware that it’s damaging your arteries, heart and other organs.

In Tennessee, almost 34% of all adult Tennesseans have been diagnosed with high blood pressure. The highest rate is in the Upper Cumberland region, with 39.6%. Tennessee inpatient charges for high blood pressure are more than $136  million per year.

The American Heart Association urges you to get your blood pressure checked on a regular basis. It takes just one minute. You can check your blood pressure for free at many pharmacies and other locations. There’s also a free risk calculator online to learn your likelihood of heart attack, stroke, heart failure and kidney disease – and how simple changes can make a difference.

Why should you monitor your blood pressure? Possible health consequences that can happen over time when high blood pressure is left untreated include:

Damage to the heart and coronary arteries, including heart attack, heart disease, congestive heart failure, aortic dissection and atherosclerosis (fatty buildups in the arteries that cause them to harden)

  • Stroke
  • Kidney damage
  • Vision loss
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Memory loss
  • Fluid in the lungs
  • Angina

Individuals whose blood pressure is higher than 140/90 mm Hg (140 systolic or above OR 90 diastolic or above) often become patients treated for serious cardiovascular problems.

– 77% of Americans treated for a first stroke have blood pressure over 140/90

– 69% of Americans who have a first heart attack have blood pressure over 140/90

– 74% of Americans with congestive heart failure have blood pressure over 140/90

Through risk reduction and treatment of HBP, you can lower your risk for many diseases. There are eight main ways you can control your blood pressure.

They are:

  • Eat a better diet, which includes reducing salt
  • Enjoy regular physical activity
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Manage stress
  • Avoid tobacco smoke
  • Understand hot tub safety
  • Comply with medication prescriptions
  • If you drink, limit alcohol

Adopting a healthy lifestyle is critical for the prevention of HBP and an indispensable part of managing it. Think of these changes as a “lifestyle prescription” and make every effort to comply with them.

Remember: While there is no cure, high blood pressure is manageable.

More information can be found at www.heart.org.


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