Preventative Wellness: Why Blood Pressure Matters
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is called the silent killer. We explain what your blood pressure measurement means, and how to keep yours in a healthy range.
Many—but not all—preventative wellness measures have a direct impact on your bone and joint health. Although a healthy blood pressure won’t make your bones or joints stronger, it is critically important to your good health.
Blood pressure is the measurement of the force of blood pushing against the walls of your blood vessels. Blood pressure measurements are recorded as two numbers: systolic pressure over diastolic pressure. Systolic pressure records the pressure in your arteries when a heart beat fills them with blood. Diastolic pressure records artery pressure between beats, when the heart is at rest. A normal systolic pressure reading is anything under 120; a normal diastolic reading is anything under 80.
One in every three Americans has high blood pressure—also called hypertension, but because there are no symptoms, many people don’t know there’s a problem until after something goes seriously wrong. Hypertension puts us at increased risk for health problems including the following:
- Heart disease
- Peripheral vascular disease
- Kidney failure
At Summit, we are committed to catching this silent killer before serious health damage is done. Our new preventative blood pressure screening identifies patients with hypertension and associated risks for heart disease and stroke.
Although certain groups are more susceptible to hypertension, including African Americans, pregnant women, women on birth control, people over 35, people who are obese, and smokers, high blood pressure can be an issue even for young, fit athletes. “I worked with a college defensive lineman; he was in excellent shape, but his pre-season intake physical revealed that his blood pressure was really high,” recalls Melissa Bowers, one of Summit’s certified athletic trainers. “Thanks to his screening, we were able to work with him to lower his blood pressure—and his risk of developing heart disease or other serious health issues.”
As with obesity, the risks associated with high blood pressure are serious, but there are simple proactive steps you can take to reduce your risk:
- Exercise to raise your heart rate above its resting level for at least 30 minutes with a long walk, on a treadmill, laps in the pool, or by cycling outdoors or on a stationery bike
- Maintain a healthy body weight
- Limit your alcohol intake
- Reduce your sodium intake
- Adjust your diet to include foods rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
- Consult your physician to find out if medication might help to keep your blood pressure at a healthy level.
Through preventative blood pressure screening for every patient, all of us at Summit are working with you to ensure that we catch and treat this silent killer before it has a chance to affect your good health.
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