and Feel Healthy? That's No Guarantee Your Blood Pressure Is In The
What does someone
with high blood pressure look like? If you describe a middle-aged person
who is inactive and overweight, you are only partially right. While
it is true that risk factors such as lack of exercise and obesity greatly
up the odds someone may have high blood pressure (also known as hypertension),
that doesn't mean people who are young, slim and work out regularly
can ignore the possibility they have a blood pressure problem. "In fact,
many with hypertension do not fit the stereotype of being overweight
and out of shape. That's one reason it is so important that everyone
have their blood pressure checked periodically," says Emory Heart Center
cardiologist Laurence Sperling, M.D., Director of Emory's Heartwise
Risk Reduction Program.
May is National High Blood
Pressure Education Month -- a perfect time to make sure you know whether
your blood pressure is within healthy, normal limits. One of the simplest
and quickest of medical tests, a blood pressure measurement (made with
a device called a sphygmomanometer) is totally painless and non-invasive.
The reading can reveal hypertension in the early stages when a strategy
of diet changes, exercise and weight control and medication, if needed,
can help prevent a host of high blood pressure related ills including
heart attacks, heart failure, kidney disease and strokes.
Generally, blood pressure
above 140/90 is considered to be high for adults, according to Dr. Sperling.
Although hypertension can produce symptoms including fatigue, confusion,
nausea, vision problems and excessive sweating, he points out that the
majority of people with mild to moderate hypertension have no symptoms
that indicate their blood pressure is too high.
"Nearly 50 million Americans
have high blood pressure, and almost a third are unaware of it, " says
Dr. Sperling. "If someone does not know his or her blood pressure, they
need to find out. Guessing that your blood pressure is normal just because
you feel good or are fairly young and fit can be a deadly mistake. On
the other hand, if you find out your blood pressure is high, don't panic.
Use the news as an opportunity to take control of your health and work
with your doctor to reduce your blood pressure to a normal range. There
are a host of approaches that work but the first step is finding
out you need help."
The Emory HeartWise Risk
Reduction Program is designed for anyone who has experienced a heart
or circulatory event or for anyone who is considered " at risk" for
heart disease. Emory Heart Center physicians and other health professionals
offer individualized risk assessments followed by a carefully monitored
program of exercise, nutrition and education to help lower heart disease
risk. To find out more about the HeartWise program, call 404-778-2850.