The American Heart Association (AHA) and other organizations are joining forces to encourage people to check their blood pressure by World Hypertension Day on May 17.
“Few severe health conditions are ignored as much as high blood pressure," Dr. Willie Lawrence, interventional cardiologist for Midwest Heart & Vascular Specialists in Kansas City, said in an AHA release. "It’s like having too much pressure in a pipe. It damages the pipe, but you often don’t see a problem until the pipe bursts or becomes clogged. It is a symptomless disease, so the best way to combat it is to check it regularly to know if you need to start or change treatment.”
Approximately 1 in 3 Americans suffer from high blood pressure, which can cause heart attacks, heart failure, strokes and other serious conditions. Those between the ages of 45 and 64 also have an increased risk of developing dementia.
Treating high blood pressure reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke in both men and women by 30 percent and 38 percent, respectively, the release said. Lifestyle changes such as limiting salt and alcohol, losing weight and exercising regularly can reduce blood pressure. Medications are also available to help lower high blood pressure.
“It may take a few tries to find the right medicine, or combination of medicines, to fit your needs,” Lawrence said in the release. “It’s important that you keep an open dialogue with your provider, and use tools like connected devices, mobile apps or web-based tracking programs to help gather the data you need about your condition and share it with your doctor.”