May is High Blood Pressure Education Month: Know Your Numbers, Take Control of Your Health

May is High Blood Pressure Education Month, a time to raise awareness about and empower people to take charge of their heart health. Often referred to as hypertension, high blood pressure is a serious condition that affects nearly half of all adults in the United States, with many unaware they even have it.

This lack of awareness is concerning because high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and other health problems. Additionally, the excessive force of blood against the artery walls can damage blood vessels throughout the body, contributing to conditions like peripheral artery disease and aneurysms. The good news? High blood pressure can often be controlled through lifestyle changes and medication, significantly reducing the risk of these complications.

Why May?

May serves as a strategic time for High Blood Pressure Education Month. Warmer weather often leads to increased social activities and gatherings, making it a perfect opportunity to raise awareness and encourage people to get their blood pressure checked. Early detection is key, as hypertension often progresses without any noticeable symptoms.

Understanding Blood Pressure Readings

Blood pressure is measured in two numbers: systolic and diastolic. Systolic pressure represents the force exerted against the artery walls as the heart beats. Diastolic pressure reflects the pressure between heartbeats when the heart relaxes. Here’s a breakdown of healthy and unhealthy blood pressure ranges according to the American Heart Association (AHA):

  • Normal: Less than 120/80 mmHg
  • Elevated: Systolic 120-129 and diastolic less than 80 mmHg (prehypertension)
  • Stage 1 Hypertension: 130-139 systolic or 80-89 diastolic mmHg
  • Stage 2 Hypertension: 140/90 mmHg or higher
Taking Charge of Your Blood Pressure

As mentioned before, high blood pressure can often be controlled through lifestyle modifications. Here are some key strategies:

  • Maintain a Healthy Weight: Losing even a small amount of weight can significantly improve blood pressure.
  • Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet: Focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein while limiting saturated and trans fats, sodium, and added sugar.
  • Reduce Sodium Intake: Aim for less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day, ideally reaching for 1,500 mg or less.
  • Increase Physical Activity: Regular exercise, such as brisk walking for at least 30 minutes most days of the week, helps lower blood pressure.
  • Manage Stress: Chronic stress can contribute to high blood pressure. Explore relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing.
  • Limit Alcohol Consumption: Excessive alcohol intake can raise blood pressure.
  • Don’t Smoke: Smoking damages blood vessels and increases blood pressure.
  • Get Enough Sleep: Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night.
Additional Resources for High Blood Pressure:

There are many resources available to help you learn more about high blood pressure and how to manage it. Here are a few:

Empowering Others:

During High Blood Pressure Education Month, you can play a role in raising awareness by sharing information with friends and family. Encourage them to check their numbers and discuss their heart health with their doctor.

By working together, we can increase awareness of high blood pressure, empower individuals to take control of their health and reduce the burden of this condition causes. Remember, knowing your numbers and taking action can significantly improve your heart health and overall well-being. For more information about our website or services, contact us online or call us at (866) 710-7626.