The following is a guest post by Janet Wright, MD, FACC, Executive Director of Million Heartsâ„¢, a national initiative of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Nearly one-third of all American adults have high blood pressure and more than half of them don't have it under control, according to a new Vital Signs report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you have high blood pressure (also called hypertension) you are at risk for a heart attack or stroke.
The majority of people with uncontrolled high blood pressure are being treated with medication yet their condition is still not under control.
Millions more are either unaware that their blood pressure is high or not yet on any treatment at all. The "silence" of high blood pressure-it causes no symptoms while doing damage to heart, brain, kidneys, and eyes-is why you need to know and monitor your blood pressure."
Controlling high blood pressure is a key component of the Million Heartsâ„¢ initiative to prevent a million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. New videos and resources from the Million Heartsâ„¢ Team Up. Pressure Down. programcan help you better understand high blood pressure and steps you can take to prevent or treat it.
Watch this "High Blood Pressure Basics" video to learn about what hypertension is, what causes it, and why you should care. Do you know what your blood pressure numbers are? Find out what they mean using this blood pressure calculator tool on Facebook.
There are many ways to treat hypertension, from reducing the amount of sodium in your diet to taking medication. Watch this "Treating High Blood Pressure" video to learn how each of these treatments works in your body and how they protect you from a heart attack or stroke.
Did you know that your pharmacist can be a valuable resource between visits to the doctor? Pharmacists are not only trained to fill your prescriptions, but can help you better understand your condition and the medications you are taking. Many pharmacies offer free blood pressure screenings, so be sure to ask your pharmacist to check your numbers next time you pick up a prescription. And make sure to share your blood pressure numbers with your doctor or nurse.
Also remember that it's very important to take medications exactly as they are prescribed. If you have side effects that don't go away with time, don't just stop taking your medication. Talk with your doctor and pharmacist as there may be other medications or different doses that can control your blood pressure and have fewer or no side effects.
Key facts from the Vital Signs report:
- About 67 million adults have high blood pressure.
- A blood pressure reading higher than 120/80 can indicate you have hypertension and should seek medical care.
- High blood pressure costs the nation almost $131 billion annually in direct health care costs.
- High blood pressure contributes to nearly 1,000 deaths a day.
Through medication, healthy lifestyle changes, and working closely with your health care team, you can get-and keep-your blood pressure under control. That's a message to take to heart.
Image Credit: Skyler817 on Flickr.