RVNA Today: High blood pressure affects 67 million

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in three American adults has high blood pressure, or hypertension. That equals about 67 million people, and unfortunately more than half of these people don’t have their blood pressure under control.

Blood pressure refers to the force of blood on the walls of your blood vessels as blood flows through them. There are two numbers in a blood pressure reading. The top number, or systolic pressure, is the force on the vessel walls when the heart beats or contracts. The second number is the diastolic pressure, which is the force during between beats when the heart relaxes.

Often no symptoms are present, but high blood pressure can cause damage to your health in many ways. It can cause blood vessels to become less flexible, which decreases the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain and other organs. This decreased flow can lead to heart attacks, strokes, chest pain or angina, or heart failure.

If you’ve been told you have high blood pressure, discuss setting a goal with your doctor. If you’re on high blood pressure medicine, take it as directed. Don’t smoke — tips and resources are available at CDC’s Smoking and Tobacco website. Also, reduce your sodium intake by using less salt in your diet.

Other healthy habits to help keep blood pressure under control include maintaining a healthy body weight, exercising 30 minutes most days, eating a healthy diet with plenty of fresh foods, learning to manage stress.

RVNA has monthly free blood pressure clinics throughout the area. Call 203-438-5555 for more information.

This column is provided by the Ridgefield Visiting Nurse Association.

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