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Controlling blood pressure prevents many health problems!


Tue, Mar 23rd, 2010
Posted in Health & Wellness

Blood pressure is the force of blood against the artery walls. It is often written or stated as two numbers. The first or top number represents the pressure when the heart contracts. This is called systolic pressure. The second or bottom number represents the pressure when the heart rests between beats. This is called diastolic pressure.

Blood pressure normally rises and falls throughout the day. When it consistently stays too high for too long, it is called hypertension. The Seventh Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure notes these levels for defining normal and high blood pressure in adults:

Normal blood pressure is a systolic blood pressure of less than 120 mmHg and a diastolic blood pressure of less than 80 mmHg.

Prehypertension is defined as a systolic blood pressure of 120-139 mmHg or a diastolic blood pressure of 80-89 mmHg. Persons with prehypertension are at increased risk to progress to hypertension.

High blood pressure or hypertension for adults is defined as a systolic blood pressure of 140 mmHg or higher or a diastolic blood pressure of 90 mmHg or higher.

If the systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels are in different categories, blood pressure status is defined according to the higher category. High blood pressure for adults will usually be measured on at least two different doctor visits before a diagnosis of high blood pressure is made. For children, high blood pressure is determined by comparing the child's blood pressure with the distribution of blood pressure for children of similar sex, age and height. A child whose blood pressure is greater than or equal to 95 percent of children of similar sex, age, and height would be considered to have high blood pressure. A diagnosis of high blood pressure for children is based on blood pressure readings on at least three different visits.

Some forms of high blood pressure are caused by family history, gender, ethnicity, and age but most often high blood pressure is caused by lifestyle choices. High blood pressure can often be prevented or controlled through lifestyle changes and medications. High blood pressure can be managed by: maintaining a healthy weight, getting exercise, reducing caffeine, salt, and alcohol intake, reducing stress, quitting smoking, and eating a diet comprised of whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.

High blood pressure is often called the 'silent killer' because it usually shows no signs or symptoms until other serious problems arise. Many people with high blood pressure do not know that they have it. High blood pressure can lead to heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, and kidney disease. The only way to determine if you have high blood pressure and prevent these illnesses is to have your blood pressure checked. Fillmore County Public Health is providing no-cost blood pressure checks open to the public. Check the community calendar for the location closest to you, and for more information contact Fillmore County Public Health at 507-765-3898.

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