High Blood Pressure education Month

by Symptom Advice on May 15, 2011

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Hypertension, or ‘high blood pressure,’ is the leading cause of stroke, and also increases the risk of having a heart attack, heart failure, kidney disease, and other life-threatening diseases. in Iowa, nearly three of every ten Iowans (28 percent) have high blood pressure.

High blood pressure is often called the ‘silent killer’ because unlike a toothache or backache, high blood pressure may not produce any symptoms. if blood pressure rises and stays high over time, it can damage the body in many ways. “To know if your blood pressure is high, you first need to know what’s considered normal,” said Terry Meek of the IDPH Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention program. “120 over 80 is considered normal and healthy. a blood pressure level of 140 over 90 or higher is considered high blood pressure.”

Some risk factors for high blood pressure can’t be avoided; for instance, African-Americans, men older than 45 and women older than 55 are more likely to have high blood pressure.

However, there are things you can do to keep your blood pressure at a healthy level: Quit smoking. Be physically active and choose healthy foods like fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains to maintain a healthy weight. Drink alcohol only in moderation – a maximum of 2 drinks a day for men, and 1 for women. Learn to manage and cope with stress. Reduce the amount of salt in your diet.

Most Iowans consume too much salt each day, often more than twice the recommended limit for most adults. most of the sodium we eat comes from packaged, processed, store-bought and restaurant foods. Only about five percent comes from salt added during cooking and about six percent comes from being added at the table.

You can find out how much sodium you are eating by checking the labels on food products and adding up the milligrams of sodium.

For more information on hidden sources of salt, visit cdc.gov/CDCTV/SaltMatters5/index.html. for information about prevention and treatment of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke, visit idph.state.ia.us/hpcdp/hdsp_iowans.asp.

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