Sponsored by the CDC, a US government health organization, National High Blood Pressure Education Month raises awareness about the impact high blood pressure can have on health.
Written as two figures, blood pressure is measured as the pressure when the heart has pumped (systolic) and when the heart is in between beats (diastolic). When the heart pumps blood, blood pressure is higher than when it is in between beats. The systolic measurement will be higher than the diastolic measurement.
Normal Blood Pressure Levels: Systolic < 120mmHg Diastolic > 80mmHg
At Risk Blood Pressure Levels: Systolic 120-139mmHg Diastolic 80-89mmHg
High Blood Pressure Levels: Systolic 140mmHg or higher Diastolic 90mmHg or higher
Health Risks of High Blood Pressure
Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure increases the risk of serious diseases and conditions such as heart disease and stroke. In the US, heart disease is the most common form of death whilst stroke is the third leading cause. Other risk factors of high blood pressure include congestive heart failure & kidney disease.
High blood pressure can have a huge impact on a person’s life. During 2007, over 46 million people in the US visited a health care provider about this condition.
Overall, the incidence of high blood pressure is about the same in men and women. However, there are gender differences between age groups. In people under the age of 45, the incidence of high blood pressure is higher in men whilst in the over 65-year age category it is higher in women. There are also race differences; it is more common among African Americans than Caucasians and less likely to occur in Mexican Americans.
In the US, approximately 1 in 3 adults has high blood pressure, however most people are not aware they have this condition due to a lack of signs or symptoms.
Reducing High Blood Pressure
High Blood Pressure Education Month encourages people to look at various lifestyle factors which may be contributing to high blood pressure. It is well documented that high levels of sodium (salt) are linked to high blood pressure. In the US, the majority of people consume more than twice the level of recommended sodium intake. Guidelines recommend up to 2,300mg of sodium per day for an adult.
Those at higher risk should consume even less (up to 1,500mg of sodium a day). Higher risk groups include those who have diabetes, kidney disease, existing high blood pressure and African American people. It is also recommended that people eat potassium rich foods which help lower blood pressure. Potassium rich foods include fish, green leafy vegetables, bananas, citrus fruits, and potatoes.
Lifestyle changes which can help reduce blood pressure, include maintaining a healthy body weight (check with our BMI Calculator), regular exercise, quitting smoking and following a healthy low sodium diet rich in fruit and vegetables. There are many affordable blood pressures monitors available for the consumer making it convenient to monitor your blood pressure at home.
For more information visit, the CDC High Blood Pressure Education Month webpage