Check Your Blood Pressure Lately?Posted by Medicare Made Clear
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is the theme of World Health Day, April 7, 2013. World Health Day is celebrated annually to mark the founding of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1948. Each year, the day is dedicated to raising awareness about a global priority public health concern.
This year’s theme, high blood pressure, is an apt choice for the United States. A 2011 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Vital Signs: Prevalence, Treatment, and Control of Hypertension,” states that:
- About 1 in 3 U.S. adults—an estimated 68 million people—has high blood pressure.
- Less than half (46%) of people with high blood pressure have their condition under control.
World Health Day 2013 is a wake-up call to check your blood pressure regularly and work with your doctor as needed to keep it in a healthy range. According to the American Heart Association, normal blood pressure for adults over 20 is 120/80.
About High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is diagnosed when your readings stay above 140/90. It’s important to get a number of readings over time for a diagnosis. Blood pressure can change from minute to minute with changes in posture, exercise, stress or sleep.
High blood pressure should not be ignored. Even though it may not cause any noticeable symptoms, it does increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and kidney failure. In addition, uncontrolled high blood pressure may cause blindness, irregular heartbeat and heart failure. The risk of developing these complications is higher if you have other cardiovascular risk factors, such as diabetes.
The treatment for high blood pressure almost includes lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthier diet and getting more exercise. In some cases, one or more medications may be prescribed.
The good news is that high blood pressure is preventable as well as treatable. You can help reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure when you:
- Reduce salt intake
- Eat a balanced diet
- Avoid harmful use of alcohol
- Get regular physical activity
- Maintain a healthy body weight
- Avoid tobacco use
Keeping Tabs on Your Blood Pressure
Your doctor or nurse probably checks your blood pressure at each visit. It’s a good idea to ask what the numbers are, if they don’t tell you at the time. Remember to do this at your next Medicare wellness visit, which includes blood pressure screening at no additional cost to you.
You can also check your blood pressure yourself with a home monitoring device. You can get one at your local drugstore. The pharmacist can help you choose one that fits your needs. In addition, many drugstores, pharmacies, health clinics and other public places have electronic blood pressure testing machines you can use.
It’s a good idea to test your blood pressure at different times of the day and to keep a record of your readings over time. This can provide important information to you and your doctor and help you create a prevention or treatment plan that meets your needs.
For more information, contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048. If you have questions about Medicare Made Clear, call 1-877-619-5582, TTY 711, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. local time, seven days a week.
Your Guide to Lowering Blood Pressure: Download this helpful booklet from the National Institutes of Health.
High Blood Pressure: Learn more about hypertension from the American Heart Association.
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