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Understanding Hypertension – Facts About Blood Pressure

Understanding Hypertension – Facts About Blood Pressure

bigstock-Heart-With-Arms-And-Legs-Measu-94237706.jpgWhen we have a good understanding of how our bodies work, we can take the steps needed to protect ourselves and live healthier lives.

High Blood Pressure (HBP), also known as hypertension, is a widely misunderstood medical condition. Some people think of those with high blood pressure as being tense, nervous, or “high strung”, but hypertension has nothing to do with personality traits. In truth, you can be a calm, relaxed person and still have HBP. One of the most dangerous aspects of hypertension is that you may not know you have it. In fact, nearly one-third of people who have high blood pressure don’t know it.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) about one in three U.S. adults—or about 70 million people—have high blood pressure. Only about half (52%) of these people have their high blood pressure under control. This common condition increases the risk for heart disease and stroke, two of the leading causes of death for Americans.

Blood pressure is typically recorded as two numbers. The top and larger number is called systolic and measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats. The bottom, smaller number is diastolic and measures the pressure in the arteries between heart beats (when the heart muscle is resting between beats and refilling with blood). While blood pressure can vary from one minute to the next with changes in posture, exercise, stress, or sleep, it should normally be less than 120/80 for an adult age 20 or over.

By keeping your blood pressure in the healthy range, you reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke and of developing heart failure, kidney failure, and peripheral vascular disease. You are also protecting your entire body, ensuring your tissues and organs receive regular supplies of oxygen-rich blood.

The main ways of controlling blood pressure include eating a better diet, enjoying regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, managing stress, avoiding smoking, and limiting alcohol consumption. Lifestyle modifications are essential and may reduce your blood pressure without the use of prescription drugs.

If you suspect you have symptoms of hypertension or if you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, we can help you manage your symptoms and lower your numbers. Merritt Athletic Clubs’ Commit to Get Fit Program is designed to give you the tools to establish a customized fitness, nutrition and stress management plan. With help from your wellness coach, you can positively adjust your lifestyle with diet and exercise. For more information, contact Paula Chaney at pchaney@merrittclubs.com.