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EMS Corner
May is National High Blood Pressure
Education Month

Sponsored by the CDC, National Blood Pressure Education Month raises awareness about the impact high blood pressure can have on health.

Written as two figures, blood pressure is measured as the pressure when the heart has pumped (systolic) and when the heart is in between beats (diastolic).

When the heart pumps blood, blood pressure is higher than when it is in between beats. The systolic measurement will be higher than the diastolic measurement.

Normal Blood Pressure Levels: Systolic > 120 mmHg/Diastolic > 80 mmHg.

At Risk Blood Pressure Levels: Systolic > 120 mmHg- 139 mmHg/Diastolic > 80-89 mmHg.

High Blood Pressure Levels: Systolic > 140 mmHg or higher/Diastolic > 90 mmHg or higher.

Health Risks Of High Blood Pressure
Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure increases the risk of serious diseases and conditions such as heart disease and stroke. In the U. S., heart disease is the most common form of death while stroke is the third leading cause. Other risk factors of high blood pressure include congestive heart failure and kidney disease.

High blood pressure can have a huge impact on a personís life. During 2007, over 46 million people in the U. S. visited a health care provider about this condition.

Overall, the incidence of high blood pressure is about the same in men and women. However, there are gender differences between age groups. In people under the age of 45, the incidence of high blood pressure is higher in men whilst in the over 65 year age category it is higher in women. There are also race differences; it is more common among African Americans than Caucasians and less likely to occur in Mexican-Americans.

In the U. S., approximately 1 in 3 adults has high blood pressure, however most people are not aware they have this condition due to a lack of signs or symptoms. You can have high blood pressure and not know it. That is why it is called the silent killer. It is also why it is so important to have your blood pressure checked. If you know family or friends who havenít had their blood pressure checked recently, make it a point to ask them to do it in May, National High Blood Pressure Education Month.

It is easy to check blood pressure and it is painless. It can be checked by your doctor, and many pharmacies have free screenings.

Reducing High Blood Pressure
If you have high blood pressure, there are steps you can take to get it under control, including:

∑ Ask your doctor what your blood pressure should be. Set a goal to lower your blood pressure with your doctor and then discuss how you can reach your goal. Work with your health care team to make sure you meet that goal.

∑ Take your blood pressure medication as directed. If you are having trouble, ask your doctor what you can do to make it easier. For example, you may want to discuss your medication schedule with your doctor if you are taking multiple drugs at different times of the day. Or you may want to discuss side effects you are feeling, or the cost of your medicine.

∑ Quit smoking - and if you donít smoke, donít start. You can find tips and resources at CDCís Smoking and Tobacco web site or Be Tobacco Free web site.

∑ Reduce Sodium. Most Americans consume too much sodium, and it raises blood pressure in most people. Learn about tips to reduce your sodium.

There are other healthy habits that can help keep your blood pressure under control:
∑ Achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.

∑ Participate in 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week.

∑ Eat a healthy diet that is high in fruits and vegetables and low in sodium, saturated fats trans fats, and cholesterol.

∑ Manage stress.

∑ Limit the amount of alcohol you drink (no more than one drink each day for women and two for men).

∑ If you have high blood pressure and are prescribed medicine, take as directed.

∑ If you have a family member who has high blood pressure, you can help by taking many of these steps listed above with them. Go for walks together or cook meals with lower sodium. Make it a family affair!

∑ Check your blood pressure regularly.

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