March 15, 2011
It's a good idea to start having your blood pressure checked at an early age. Even children as young as 6 years old can have high blood pressure.
Talk to your doctor about what the numbers mean to you. Health experts have changed the normal range for blood pressure. The goal is to get doctors to recommend stronger and earlier treatment of high blood pressure. This is because new studies show the risk of heart disease and stroke begins to go up at lower blood pressures than the experts realized.
Here are the new blood pressure rankings:
|High Blood Pressure:||140 or above||90 or above|
|Prehypertension (Pre-High blood pressure):||120-139||80-89|
|Normal adult blood pressure:||119 or below||79 or below|
High blood pressure can be anyone's problem. In fact, women need to know about certain things that may put them at a greater risk for high blood pressure than men:
For African Americans, high blood pressure develops at an earlier age, tends to be more severe, and carries higher rates of kidney failure. It's important to get the facts so you can reduce your risk for stroke, heart disease, or kidney disease.
High blood pressure is the number 1 risk for stroke that you can change. If you get your blood pressure under control, your chance of stroke goes down significantly. Every 45 seconds, someone in America has a stroke. Stroke is our nation's number 3 killer, and a leading cause of severe disability that can last for a long time. People with uncontrolled high blood pressure are three times more likely to develop coronary (artery) heart disease. They're six times more likely to develop congestive heart failure, a disease in which the heart can't pump enough blood to the rest of the body.
Untreated high blood pressure can damage the fragile lining of the blood vessels. Once damaged, fat and calcium can build up along the artery wall, forming a plaque. Plaque is a sticky matter that "stops up" the arteries - the tubes that carry blood away from the heart. The blood vessel becomes narrowed and stiff. This means blood flow through the blood vessel is reduced. Over time, lower blood flow to certain organs in the body can cause damage, leading to:
Treating high blood pressure means changes and medicines during your care. Finding the right mix of drugs with the fewest side effects can take some time. So it's important to take your medicine as your doctor has told you. Work with your doctor to put together your drug plan and target goals.
Talk with your doctor about the following:
Follow the "Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension" eating plan (DASH). This plan has been scientifically proven to reduce blood pressure a great deal. The DASH eating plan is a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products. The plan also has lower amounts of saturated and total fats. Your goal is 8 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Lowering sodium while following DASH has been shown to lower blood pressure even further than just DASH alone. Reducing the amount of processed food you eat, such as snack foods, lunch meats (like salami or ham), and canned soups will also help. DASH may not cure high blood pressure but it may lower your pressure enough that your doctor may reduce your medications.
Even if your doctor has prescribed drugs for you, there are still many steps you can take to lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke:
There are risk factors you can change to lower your risk of getting high blood pressure, such as:
Here are some risks you can't control:
To find out more about high blood pressure and medication, checking yourself at home, the DASH eating plan, preventing the disease, and much more, log into MyHumana, your secure Website. Scroll down to the Condition Centers on the left side of the page. Select Heart Disease, and then select the link for Hypertension. You also will find links to the American Heart Association and the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute on the Condition Center.
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