May is designated as National Blood Pressure Education Month. With the global COVID-19 pandemic, it is very important to learn about and monitor your blood pressure.
Blood pressure is a measure of how hard the blood pushes against the walls of your arteries. While blood pressure may go up and down throughout the day, if it stays up, you may have chronic high blood pressure. Another name for high blood pressure is hypertension. Symptoms of hypertension often go unnoticed and if left uncontrolled the risk of heart problems such as stroke or heart attack increase. That is why education concerning blood pressure is so important!

Two numbers tell you your blood pressure. It is important to know your numbers. The first number is the systolic pressure. It shows how hard the blood pushes when your heart is pumping. The second number is the diastolic pressure. It shows how hard the blood pushes between heart beats when your heart is relaxed and filling with blood. High blood pressure (hypertension) means that the top number stays high, or the bottom number stays high, or both. Your doctor will give you a goal for your blood pressure.

High blood pressure increases the risk of stroke, heart attack, and other problems. Talk with your physician about your risks of health problems based on your blood pressure.

What happens when you have high blood pressure?

  • Blood flows through your arteries with too much force. Over time, this damages the walls of your arteries. But you cannot feel it.

  • Fat and calcium start to build up in your arteries. This buildup is called plaque. Plaque makes your arteries narrower and stiffer. Blood cannot flow through them as easily.

  • This lack of good blood flow starts to damage some of the organs in your body.

  • There is a direct link between hypertension and heart failure as well.

How can you prevent high blood pressure?

  • Maintain a healthy weight.

  • Limit sodium.

  • Try a wide variety of ways to flavor food, such as garlic, lemon juice, onion, vinegar, herbs, and spices.

  • Be as physically active as you are able.

  • Limit or eliminate alcohol.

  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.

  • Anxiety and stress management and limiting caffeine also can help blood pressure.

Be knowledgeable, be proactive, be well!