Silent Killer: Steps You Can Take To Manage Your Blood Pressure |

Silent Killer: Steps You Can Take To Manage Your Blood Pressure

Silent Killer: Steps You Can Take To Manage Your Blood Pressure

by Mary Beth TeSelle, Special to The Union
Home monitoring of blood pressure can be an important tool in managing high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. Be sure to share your numbers with your health care provider.

Nearly half of all American adults are living with high blood pressure – that’s more than 108 million people. One in three adults have high blood pressure and don’t even realize it.

Knowing and managing your blood pressure is critically important. High blood pressure is the number one cause of stroke and also increases your risk for heart attack, heart failure and other serious health conditions. High blood pressure contributes to nearly 1,300 deaths in the U.S. every day.

Because of these sobering statistics, May has been declared High Blood Pressure Education Month – a time to become familiar with the risk factors for high blood pressure, understand the importance of knowing your blood pressure, and know ways you can manage it.

High blood pressure is known as a “silent disease” because it typically doesn’t have symptoms. In fact, it can go unnoticed for years.

That’s why it’s important to see your doctor and make sure your blood pressure is checked every year or two. Your provider will help you determine the appropriate blood pressure for you based on your age and other medical conditions. Your blood pressure should be taken and noted at every appointment.

According to the American Heart Association, there are several things that can increase the likelihood you will develop high blood pressure:

Family history: If your parents or other close blood relatives have high blood pressure, there’s an increased chance that you’ll get it, too.

Age: The older you are, the more likely you are to get high blood pressure. As we age, our blood vessels gradually lose some of their elastic quality, which can contribute to increased blood pressure.

Gender: Until age 64, men are more likely to get high blood pressure than women are. At 65 and older, women are more likely to get high blood pressure.

Race: African Americans tend to develop high blood pressure more often than people of any other racial background in the U.S. It also tends to be more severe in African Americans, and some medications are less effective in treating HBP for them.

Certain medications as well as some health conditions, such as hormonal imbalances, kidney disease and sleep apnea can also contribute to high blood pressure.

Lifestyle factors like smoking, poor diet, obesity, stress and a lack of exercise are known as “modifiable” risk factors, which means we can take steps to address these issues and improve our overall health, including our blood pressure.

These steps include eliminating use of all kinds of tobacco; limiting salt intake; exercising regularly; getting enough sleep; maintaining a healthy weight; and reducing stress. Focusing on these choices every day can help to control blood pressure in most people. For others, medication may be needed but it is always better to try and improve your numbers with lifestyle changes first.

If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, it’s important that you continue to monitor your numbers. Contact your health care provider if you are unsure when you should be seen again.

The most important thing anyone diagnosed with high blood pressure or at risk for high blood pressure can do is to know their numbers. While this should include regular checks from your health care provider, you may also want to consider purchasing a blood pressure monitoring for use at home.

Particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, home blood pressure monitoring has become an important tool. By accurately and regularly taking your blood pressure at home and sharing the results with your health care provider, you can manage your health without unnecessary trips to the doctor’s office. [See sidebar below for tips to make sure you are getting an accurate reading.]

When you and your health care provider know your numbers, you can develop a plan for treating your blood pressure if it is too high. This is the first step to ensuring that you don’t become another high blood pressure statistic.

Your heart is in your hands

To help ensure that your home blood pressure monitor is providing an accurate reading, follow these steps.

1. Use a certified, automates blood pressure monitor that fits you and uses an arm cuff, not wrist or finger.

2. Rest for three to five minutes before using.

3. Sit in a chair with your legs uncrossed and feet flat on the floor and your arm on a table close to heart level.

4. Place the cuff on bare skin, on your upper arm at heart level (about one inch above the elbow).

5. Fit the cuff snugly – you should be able to fit one finger between the cuff and your arm.

6. Do not talk, text, read or use an electronic device during measuring.

7. Take two readings, one minute apart, every morning and evening for one week and share with your doctor’s office.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User


See more