Under pressure? Keep things in check

UnderPressureMay is National High Blood Pressure Education Month and this year’s theme highlights the threat of uncontrolled hypertension. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) urges Americans: “If your blood pressure is not lower than 140/90, ask your doctor why.”

High blood pressure affects about 50 million — or one in four — American adults. Of those with hypertension, about 68 percent are aware of their condition, but only 27 percent have it under control. The reasons for this include not taking drugs as prescribed and/or not taking a medication that sufficiently lowers blood pressure.

Hypertension can lead to stroke, heart failure or kidney damage. To help prevent that, blood pressure must be lowered to less than 140/90. Normal blood pressure is less than 130/85, according to NHLBI, which is part of the National Institutes of Health.

If you don’t know what your blood pressure numbers are, a quick stop at your Kansas City Health Care Trust Employee Clinic can reveal them. The clinic urges anyone with a diagnosis of hypertension to have their blood pressure checked regularly and share the readings with their physician for ongoing treatment. Walk-ins are welcome.

Most of the time, there are no symptoms associated with hypertension. Although a few people will have minor symptoms, these typically don’t occur until blood pressure reaches a severely high stage, according to the Mayo Clinic. Some symptoms that may occur include:

  • Confusion
  • Ear noise or buzzing
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Nosebleed
  • Vision changes

If you have high blood pressure, some lifestyle changes could help lower your numbers. The NHLBI recommends that you: lose weight, if overweight; become physically active; choose foods lower in salt and sodium; and limit alcohol intake.