May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month
There are a lot of happening events in May but I choose to blog about a subject very near and dear to me. My family tree is riddled with hypertension regardless of our weight, diet, or physical activity. Genetics was not kind to me in this department but I have been blessed in so many other ways!
Hypertension or shall I keep it real “high blood pressure” usually has no symptoms but can cause serious problems such as stroke, heart attacks, kidney failure and blindness. Because it usually has no symptoms, many people have high blood pressure and do not know it. According to the CDC, African Americans develop high blood pressure more often, and at an earlier age, than whites and Mexican Americans. Among African Americans, more women than men have the condition, the numbers are startling, 45.7% women and 43.0% men respectively.
Do you know your numbers? Normal blood pressure levels should read no more than 120/80. Blood pressure is written in two numbers, the first (systolic) number represents the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats. The second (diastolic) number represents the pressure in your vessels when your heart rests between beats.
I can’t tell you how many health fairs I have been at when we have had to call paramedics to take a participant to the emergency room to have a more thorough evaluation because their blood pressure is sky high. Most men and you know who you are always go fighting and say “I feel fine”! We love you and in spite of yourselves we have to send you on your way. I am going to fill you in on a little secret I use to get my male patients and clients to listen to me. Usually when I see them it is the last resort, the wife or significant other has brought them in, and of course that is the person doing most of the listening. As my client is looking out the window, or playing with their smart phone, I ease a little conversation about the big ED, yes erectile dysfunction. Boy do they sit up, turn around, and listen to me. I had one guy even pull out a pen and started taking notes!
Sure we can’t control who are families are, our age, or our heritage but the things we can control we must take charge. Stop smoking, eat a healthy diet that’s low in sodium, maintain a healthy weight, prevent or control diabetes, and limit your alcohol intake.
Please check your blood pressure often, I was on a plane today and was reading a Consumer Reports magazine. I saw the coolest gadgets where your blood pressure monitor works with your smart phone! One was called A11 Withings and the other A8 iHealth, both monitors require you to download a free app. I hope these devices become more popular and affordable, Lord knows people are in love with their smart phones and don’t want to put them down! Maybe they will show that much love for themselves.