May: National High Blood Pressure Education Month
The silent killer, hypertension (high blood pressure) often carries symptoms that are hardly noticeable, without screening. The long term effects of high blood pressure are much harder to ignore. High blood pressure leads to increased chance of cardiovascular disease (heart disease) and stroke. Sadly, too many of us are very familiar with heart disease due to its indiscriminate power to steal away family and friends. The leading cause of death, nationally, nearly 25% of all deaths in the United States are caused by heart disease.
Given high blood pressure’s link to heart disease and ability to avoid detection, we are continuing our year of health initiatives by celebrating May as National High Blood Pressure Education Month. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), among the ~70 million Americans fighting high blood pressure, only about half (52%) have their condition under control. Accordingly, high blood pressure is a primary or contributing cause of death for nearly 1,000 American deaths, daily. Identifying and managing this disease will give you the best chance of being able to see your grandchildren grow up, graduate, and start their own family. After all, don’t you want a say in who they decide to marry?
The first step in fighting this disease is to identify your status. Although many machines are available, over the counter, to measure your blood pressure for you, testing is quick and painless when done by a health care professional. Simply request a blood pressure screening at your next doctor appointment. Or, take a walk to your local pharmacy and you will, likely, find a blood pressure screening. Frequency of screenings should be dictated by the amount and degree to which you exhibit certain risk factors. Conditions such as Diabetes and Prehypertension establish a greater risk for developing high blood pressure, as do unhealthy behaviors such as smoking tobacco, eating foods high in sodium yet low in potassium, not getting enough physical activity, being obese, and drinking too much alcohol. If you exhibit any of these risk factors or have a family history of high blood pressure, talk with your doctor about being screened.
Lifestyle choices play a critical role in determining your likelihood of developing high blood pressure. Heavy consumption of alcohol and tobacco smoking put you at risk for more than just high blood pressure and these are lifestyle decisions, completely in your control. Also, explicitly stated by the CDC as a risk factor, regular exercise reduces your chance of developing high blood pressure. Exercise, in conjunction with a good diet, will provide you with health benefits beyond reducing the chance of developing high blood pressure. Regular exercise and good diet are the cornerstones of a healthy lifestyle and being fit. Climbing mountains is less of a metaphor when climbing stairs doesn’t take your breath away.
Start small and set manageable goals. One of the easiest and most popular ways to start cleaning up a diet is by replacing sugary soft drinks with water. After all, just replacing one daily soda with a bottle of water will cause the average American to lose 12-16 pounds over the course of one year. Hypertension is a preventable and manageable disease. Spread the word, then join us in leading healthier lifestyles.
To start that daily bottle of water instead of a soda, click here to take advantage of our Big Brothers Big Sisters partnership. We’ll donate $1.00 for every case of 16.9 fl. oz spring water that you buy. Or, call (800) 624-6841 and mention Big Brothers Big Sisters to make us pay up.