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May is National Blood Pressure Education Month

May is National Blood Pressure Education Month

Thursday, 06 May 2010

May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month, a time to focus on preventing and controlling high blood pressure. Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps out blood. If this pressure rises and stays high over time, it can damage the body in many ways.

As a first responder you have probably taken many people’s blood pressures, but are you aware of your own numbers? About 1 in 3 adults in the United States have high blood pressure, but many of these people are unaware of they have it. Undetected and untreated high blood pressure can cause damage to the heart, blood vessels, kidneys, and other parts of your body.

You may recall from your first responder training that blood pressure readings are written as the systolic blood pressure over the diastolic pressure. Systolic blood pressure is the pressure when the heart beats while pumping blood. Diastolic blood pressure is the pressure when the heart is at rest between beats. Hypertension is the medical term used to describe high blood pressure.

Normal blood pressure for adults is when the systolic pressure is less than 120 and the diastolic is less than 80. Prehypertension exists when the systolic pressure is between 120 and 139 or the diastolic pressure is between 80 and 89. Hypertension exists when the systolic pressure is greater than 140 or the diastolic pressure is greater than 90.

People who have high blood pressure can take steps to control it and reduce their risks for related health problems. Key steps to control or preventing hypertension includes:

Find more resources and information for a heart-healthy lifestyle on the Heart-Healthy Firefighter Program web site.

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