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May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month. About 74.5 million people in the United States have high blood pressure, which is also called hypertension. Hypertension increases the risk for heart disease and stroke, the first and third leading causes of death in the United States.
Blood pressure is written as two numbers. The first (systolic) number represents the pressure when the heart beats. The second (diastolic) number represents the pressure when the heart rests between beats.
Blood pressure that is slightly higher than normal is called prehypertension. People with prehypertension are more likely to develop high blood pressure than are people with normal blood pressure levels.
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure, and kidney disease.
Also, statistics show that high blood pressure was a primary or contributing cause of death for 326,000 Americans in 2006.
You can maintain healthy blood pressure through changing your lifestyle or by combining lifestyle changes with prescribed medications.
Key lifestyle changes include the following:
- Have your blood pressure checked regularly.
- Maintain a normal body weight (body mass index of 18.5-24.9 which is kilograms divided by height in meters squared).
- Keep up physical activity (2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking) every week and muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).
- Follow a healthy eating plan of a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and low in sodium.
- Quit smoking.
- If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation (≤ 2 drinks per day for men and ≤ 1 drinks per day for women).
- If you have high blood pressure and are prescribed medication’s), take as directed.
Read more: May is Blood Pressure Awareness Month
Originally posted 2011-05-17 10:30:46.