Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is known as the silent killer. This is because high blood pressure usually presents no symptoms until a person gets really sick. High blood pressure can cause a stroke, kidney damage, and heart failure. According to the National Institutes of Health, “High blood pressure affects about 50 million–or one in four–American adults. Of those with hypertension, about 68 percent are aware of their condition–but only 27 percent have it under control.”
Monitoring your blood pressure is easy, but it’s something you need to do consistently. May is National High Blood Pressure Awareness Month and American Stroke Month. These two initiatives bring awareness and education to high blood pressure and stroke risk.
It’s important to know your blood pressure numbers. The top number, called the systolic number, measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats, or contracts. The bottom number, called the diastolic number, measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart is resting between beats. High blood pressure is present at readings of 140/90 and above.
If you have high blood pressure, there are ways you can lower your numbers. Exercise, a healthy diet with foods lower in sodium, stress management techniques, not smoking, and lowering your alcohol intake can help. It’s important to talk with your doctor and communicate openly and honestly about your habits and what you can do to control your blood pressure.
After Mark got sick, I realized that I needed to monitor my blood pressure more closely. I decided to start keeping a blood pressure journal that I can record my blood pressure and heart rate a few times each week. It’s small enough that I can carry it with me. I take it to doctor appointments because I get white coat syndrome and my blood pressure is higher in the doctor office. I give my journal to my doctor so she can see my blood pressure history.
I use an at home blood pressure monitoring kit, but you can also take a blood pressure reading at most grocery stores and drug stores.
Once I take my blood pressure, I record the blood pressure reading and heart rate in my journal. I write the date next to each reading so that I can easily view the readings at a later date.
A few minutes a day can make a huge difference in your health. Be proactive and take control of your health. You only have one life – make it count.
Disclaimer: I’m not a medical doctor. I’m speaking from my own personal experiences. Please consult your doctor for medical advice pertaining to your health.
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