It Only Takes a Minute
We’ve all experienced a rise in blood pressure while driving in heavy traffic, or racing to meet a deadline at work. Blood pressure is a measure of the force your blood makes against your artery walls as it travels through your body. If your arteries are narrow, your reading may be high.
When high blood pressure becomes chronic, however, it is a serious medical condition. High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) can lead to heart disease or stroke – the first and third leading causes of death in the United States.
One in three Americans has high blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although high blood pressure can cause mild symptoms – such as headaches or dizziness – most people don’t know they have a problem until they get a high reading during a routine doctor’s visit.
Getting your blood pressure checked is easy. Your doctor will determine your pressure by attaching a soft, fabric cuff to your upper arm. Blood pressure readings have an upper and lower number. A normal reading is less than 120/80.
You can lower your blood pressure – or keep it low if you:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Limit alcohol
- Quit smoking, or never start
- Get regular exercise
- Follow a low-salt diet
- Learn to manage or minimize stress
If lifestyle changes aren’t enough to bring your blood pressure within a healthy range, your doctor may prescribe medication. Left untreated, high blood pressure can be life-threatening.
Get your blood pressure checked regularly. It only takes a minute, and it could save your life.
Need a doctor? Visit the Find A Doctor section of our website or find one with Lakeland Health’s 24-hour referral service at (800) 303-8399