I Screen, You Screen We All Screen for Blood Pressure Control

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Sometimes high blood pressure seems so commonplace – one out of three U.S. adults have it – that taking care of it can fall pretty far down the list of priorities: somewhere after your flu shot but before your second annual dental check up.

This is unfortunate because not only is having your blood pressure checked both easy and painless, but it can go a long way toward helping you head off problems before they get more serious.

Failure to control blood pressure can lead to heart attack, stroke and other potentially fatal events. In fact, according to the CDC, more than 360,000 American deaths in 2010 included high blood pressure as a primary or contributing cause.  That's 1,000 deaths each day.

Men and women are about equally likely to develop high blood pressure over their lifetimes, but their risks vary at different ages. The condition affects more men than women before 64 years of age. For people aged 65 years or older, more women than men have high blood pressure.

So what exactly should we be looking for?

Blood pressure has two numbers, systolic and diastolic, and is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). Systolic pressure (the top number) is the force on the blood vessel walls when the heart beats and pumps blood out of the heart. Diastolic pressure (the bottom number) is the force that occurs when the heart relaxes in between beats.

This is how it breaks down by the numbers:

Normal: less than 120 systolic and less than 80 diastolic

Prehypertension: between 120 and 139 systolic and 80–89 diastolic

Hypertension: 140 or greater systolic, 90 or greater diastolic

If you find you have high blood pressure, it’s time to take action:

Set a Goal: Ask your doctor what your blood pressure should be and work out a plan with them to achieve that goal.
Take Your Meds:  If you are having trouble, ask your doctor what you can do to make it easier. For example, you may want to discuss your medication schedule if you are taking multiple drugs at different times of the day. Or you may want to discuss side effects you are feeling, or the cost of your medicine.
Quit smoking—and if you don't smoke, don't start. You can find tips and resources here or here.
Cut the Sodium: Most people consume too much. The CDC has a tip sheet to reduce sodium here.

At Home Instead Senior Care of Central Oregon, we’re firm believers that an ounce of hypertension prevention is worth a pound of cure, that’s why we think it’s important to try to head off high blood pressure before it begins.

Here are some of the things that anyone can do at any age to help prevent high blood pressure:

  • Achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Participate in 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week.
  • Eat a healthy diet that is high in fruits and vegetables and low in sodium, saturated fats, trans fat, and cholesterol.
  • Manage stress.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol you drink (no more than one drink each day for women and two for men).

For more information about the well-being of seniors, or to inquire about a trained CAREGiver to help your senior with healthy meal preparation, transportation to medical appointments and other things to support their good health, please contact 541-330-6400.


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