Monitor your blood pressure to check if it’s in a healthy range.

May is National Blood Pressure Education Month; know your numbers

Dr. Sue Mitra

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High blood pressure carries a significant risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

High blood pressure is the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

Almost half of the adult U.S. population live with high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.

This month’s focus is on educating people about hypertension and lowering your risk factors, and managing it.

High blood pressure creates stress on the circulatory system, raising the risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney disease, vision loss, etc…

The risk factors for hypertension include increased age, family history, genetic factors, obesity and having excess weight, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, alcohol, a diet high in saturated fat and salt, stress, diabetes, pregnancy and sleep apnea.

Dr. Mitra’s previous three columns:

Tummy ache?:Does your stomach regularly hurt? It could be irritable bowel syndrome

Know the signs of a stroke:The quicker they are treated the better chance of recovery

Kidney health:Your kidneys do much more than you realize; make sure you take care of them

The heart pumps oxygenated blood to various vital organs in the body.

Blood pressure is the pressure of blood that pushes against the walls of your arteries.

Arteries carry blood from your heart to various parts of your body.

Blood pressure is measured using two numbers, systolic and diastolic.

The top number is known as systolic blood pressure, which measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart contracts.

The bottom number is known as diastolic blood pressure, which measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart rests between beats.

Persistent high blood pressure can cause strain on the walls of the arteries that can lead to various health problems, which can be life-threatening.

Hypertension is a silent killer disease that does not often cause symptoms, so regular screening can help a person detect and treat the condition early on.

High blood pressure is a potentially dangerous condition that usually has no symptoms but can lead to a heart attack, stroke and other life-threatening conditions.

Your goal is to keep healthy blood pressure lower than 120 over 80 mm Hg. If your blood pressure is 130–139 to 80–89 mm Hg or above, you should speak to your doctor.

Once blood pressure reaches around 180/120 mm Hg, it becomes a hypertensive crisis which is a medical emergency. You may experience dizziness, shortness of breath, palpitations, nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred or double vision and nosebleeds.

You must seek immediate medical attention if you are experiencing any of such symptoms.

There are different devices to measure blood pressure. You may use a digital device or a manual sphygmomanometer with a stethoscope.

You will typically need more than one reading to confirm a diagnosis, as various factors affect the result.

Blood pressure can fluctuate during various times of the day or during feelings of anxiety or stress, or even after eating.

Additional tests that can help confirm a diagnosis include urine, blood tests, and an electrocardiogram.

There are various ways to lower your blood pressure.

Weight loss is one of the most effective lifestyle changes for controlling blood pressure.

Regular physical activity, at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical exercise a week, can lower your blood pressure.

Eating a reduced-sodium diet and a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products can improve your heart health and lower blood pressure.

Limiting the amount of alcohol you drink, quitting smoking and reducing stress also help control blood pressure.

If blood pressure is difficult to control with lifestyle and dietary modifications, your doctor will recommend medication.

The options may vary over time, according to how severe the hypertension is and whether there are complications.

Possible complications of high blood pressure are heart failure, heart attack, peripheral arterial disease, aortic aneurysm, kidney disease, stroke and vascular dementia.

Seeking early treatment and managing blood pressure help prevent many of these complications. So, know your numbers.

This month, we celebrate National Blood Pressure Education Month by raising your awareness and staying informed of all aspects of hypertension.

To learn more about hypertension awareness, contact Dr. Sue Mitra, Board Certified in Internal Medicine, at 321-622-6222. You can also visit her at www.suemitra.com and schedule an appointment.

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