Are you one of the millions of Americans who has high blood pressure? If so, heath experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are begging you to get it under control.
According to a new report released today by the CDC, more than half of the 67 million Americans who have high blood pressure do not have the condition under control, prompting Thomas Frieden, the director of the CDC to declare high blood pressure 'Public Health Enemy No 2.' (Public Health Enemy No. 1 is tobacco.)
So what's the big deal about a little high blood pressure? Hypertension - the medical term for high blood pressure - greatly increases a person's chances of developing heart disease and stroke, the first and fourth leading causes of death in this country.
When blood pressure is high, it means that blood is flowing with too much force in the arteries, putting pressure on them that can lead to tears and the development of scar tissue. This scar tissue can then trap plaque causing blockages, blood clots and hardened, weakened arteries. According to Frieden, 1,000 deaths every day are attributable to hypertension. The condition is defined as a reading greater than or equal to 140/90.
What do you need to do to get your blood pressure under control. First, see a doctor. Your health care provider can determine if your blood pressure is in fact high and recommend a treatment plan to reduce it if it is. Treatment options might include medication and/or stress management, weight loss, exercise, and a low-sodium diet. And if you smoke, it's time to quit.
Do you have high blood pressure? Do you have it under control?
Maybe now is a good time to find out.