Some 68 million people (that’s 1 in 3 U.S. adults) have high blood pressure, also called hypertension. High blood pressure often has no symptoms but can damage the heart, brain, and kidneys. That’s why it’s known as “the silent killer.” Many people don’t know they have high blood pressure, and even among those who do, half still don’t have it controlled well enough.
Two recently published studies report important new findings on high blood pressure.
The first found that blood pressure levels among children and teenagers have risen over the past 13 years. Looking at data on children in the U.S., the study reports that about 19% of boys and 12% of girls either have high blood pressure (hypertension) or are at risk for high blood pressure (prehypertension). The study’s authors also show how children and teenagers who use lots of salt and are obese are more likely to have high blood pressure.
The second study reports a better way to control blood pressure for adults. Self-monitoring of blood pressure and ”coaching” by pharmacists helped patients more effectively than their current approach to care.
Here are five steps you can take to prevent or treat high blood pressure:
1) Know your numbers.
Get your blood pressure checked regularly — and check your pressure yourself at home. The top (systolic) and bottom (diastolic) numbers of a blood pressure reading are measured as millimeters of mercury (mmHg). Keep these figures in mind:
Systolic: less than 120 mmHg; Diastolic: less than 80mmHg
Prehypertension (“at risk”)
Systolic: 120–139 mmHg; Diastolic: 80–89 mmHg
Systolic: 140 mmHg or higher; Diastolic: 90 mmHg or higher
2) Keep your weight in check and exercise.
Keep your weight at a healthy level. A heart-healthy diet promotes good blood pressure, while drinking too much alcohol is associated with high blood pressure. Also, regular, moderate exercise — at least 30 minutes daily — can lower your blood pressure as well as benefit your overall health.
3) Reduce your salt intake.
Too much salt can raise your blood pressure and put you at risk for health problems. The recommendation is 1,500 milligrams per day for anyone with high blood pressure; those with normal blood pressure and no other health conditions that don’t allow for higher salt intake should use no more than 2,300 milligrams of salt (about a teaspoon) daily. The CDC reports that like adults, children and teenagers get most of their salt from processed foods and take-out meals.
4) If you have hypertension, take medicine as prescribed.
Medicines only work if you follow your doctor’s directions. You can sign up and receive automated reminders when it’s time to refill your prescription.
5) Learn more about heart health.
Learn about how to live a heart-healthy life by accessing the American Heart Association’s My Life Check health assessment tool.
Many pharmacies offer free blood pressure testing. Plus, pharmacists can answer many of your health and medicine questions.
Be well, stay well ~
Balance Rewards for healthy choices™
Walgreens’ Balance Rewards for healthy choices™ program (formerly Steps) is just one tool to help you make healthy choices by rewarding you for tracking your blood pressure, exercise, weight, sleep and more. Learn more and get started ›