May is High Blood Pressure Education Month
Did you know May is High Blood Pressure Education Month? To celebrate and help raise awareness, our team of designers whipped up the “I Heart BP” ribbon above. When you check in to a higi Station during the month of May, you’ll be awarded this ribbon. Have you earned yours yet?
All of this begs the question…How much do you know about blood pressure? Let’s see if we can help a bit.
Can you let me in on the basics of blood pressure?
One of three US Adults has high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. According to the CDC, 16 million of those 67 million people know that they have high blood pressure. Shockingly, this means 51 million people aren’t even aware they have high blood pressure.
Blood pressure is the force that blood exerts against the walls of the arteries. Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood from your heart to the rest of your body. Your heart pumps blood into those arteries each time it beats.
Below is a sample blood pressure reading:
- Your blood pressure is at its highest when the heart beats to pump blood to the arteries. This is called systolic pressure.
- When the heart is at rest, between beats, the blood pressure drops. This is called diastolic pressure.
- If the measurement reads 120 systolic and 80 diastolic, you would say “120 over 80” or write it out likes this: “120/80 mmHg.”
- The mmHg is millimeters of mercury – the units used to measure blood pressure.
Where does my blood pressure rank?
Normal blood pressure is when your systolic pressure is less than 120 mmHg and diastolic pressure is less than 80 mmHg.
People at risk for high blood pressure, sometimes called prehypertension, have systolic pressure between 120 and 139 mmHg or diastolic between 80 and 89 mmHg.
Finally, if you have high blood pressure your systolic is 140 mmHg or higher or diastolic is 90 mmHg or higher.
The chart below summarizes the categories of blood pressure levels in adults (don’t worry, we won’t quiz you on any of this).
This chart reflects blood pressure categories defined by the American Heart Association.
Great higi, now what does all this mean for me?
Yes you may now be an expert on blood pressure, but all this is useless without some actionable steps. Here a few from the CDC that may work for you and feel free to share things that have worked for you below.
- Ask your doc what your blood pressure should be. It’s important to set a goal with your doctor and discuss how you can reach that goal. You can then work with your doctor to determine the best way to meet that goal.
- Take your blood pressure meds as directed. If you’ve been prescribed meds by a qualified healthcare provider, you may want to discuss your medication schedule with your doctor if you are taking multiple drugs at different times of the day.
- Quit smoking. And it goes without saying, but if you don’t smoke, you may not want to start. Find tips and resources at CDC’s Smoking and Tobacco Web site.
- Take a break from sodium. Yes we all love salt but unfortunately it also can raise your risk for high blood pressure.