May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month
Have you checked your blood pressure recently?
In the spirit of raising awareness for what is considered one of the leading causes of death in our society, we're here to explain what blood pressure is, what causes high blood pressure, and how to combat the severe health risks associated with high blood pressure. Checking blood pressure regularly is an important part of keeping high blood pressure controlled. Also, many people with high blood pressure don’t even know they have it. That’s why we want to persuade as many people as possible to get a blood pressure check this May.
What is Blood Pressure?
The easiest way to define blood pressure is by noting that it's the force that pushes blood throughout our bodies via our circulatory system. The force is created by our hearts expelling blood when it contracts during each heartbeat, and then gradually traveling through the smaller branches of arteries before returning.
Measuring Blood Pressure
Anyone who has ever been to a doctor's appointment before is more than likely familiar with having their blood pressure checked via the blood pressure "cuff" that is fastened around the upper arm of the patient and then tightened. Doing so allows a medical professional to accurately identify whether your levels are within a normal range or not. Your blood pressure reading will consist of both a systolic number and a diastolic number. Systolic pressure is the first number and the highest, and measures the contractions of the heart, while the diastolic pressure measures the pressure inside of the arteries during the pause between heartbeats.
Combating High Blood Pressure
While the risks associated with high blood pressure are certainly a cause for concern, there are many ways to keep your levels under control and your health in a positive state. Keeping your body weight at a suitable and healthy range for your height and age is a large factor, as is ensuring that you practice a diet that is rich in produce and low-fat protein. Regularly monitor your sodium intake levels to keep them as low as possible and be aware of how much alcohol you consume on a regular basis. Be sure to also engage in regular exercise for at least 30 minutes every day, as even a simple walk around the block every evening is enough to drastically reduce your overall risk levels.
High Blood Pressure Medications and Oral Health
Some high blood pressure medications interrupt normal saliva flow and cause a chronic dry mouth. Dry mouth is responsible for halitosis an increase in mouth lesions (canker sores) and oral fungal infections. Dry mouth also encourages growth of anaerobic bacteria, the primary cause of cavities and gum disease. We know the medication is imperative to your health and if you take medications for high blood pressure, the dentist or hygienist may recommend more preventive and frequent maintenance appointments to ensure that you are in good oral and physical health.
High blood pressure is often symptomless and can be a “silent killer” at any age — and the only way to know your risk is to have your blood pressure checked. This May, during National High Blood Pressure Education Month, do yourself and your family a favor:
1. Have your blood pressure checked and review the categories at www.heart.org/bplevels to understand what your numbers mean.
2. Be counted as someone who knows their numbers at www.heart.org/bplevels . Click on the “I’ve Checked My Blood Pressure” button!
3. Encourage the people you care about to know their numbers, too.
4. Visit www.heart.org/ccc to sign up for the CCC Tracker. All you’ll need is an email address and a campaign code: CHKCT.
For more information on high blood pressure go to www.heart.org/hbp or contact our office.