It's known as the "silent killer." High blood pressure was a primary or contributing cause of death for about 360,000 Americans (2013). Yet, this secretive illness offers no warning signs. You may feel great, while it secretly damages the heart, arteries, kidneys or brain. When blood pressure remains high, it forces the heart to work hard all the time. This can enlarge and weaken the heart. It can also wear out the elasticity of the arteries, as well as scar and narrow them. The heart and arteries are then much more susceptible to injury. In addition, this overworked circulatory system can become less effective at delivering the oxygen and nutrients that are needed by vital organs. This can prevent organs, such as the brain or kidneys, from working properly and also make them more susceptible to injury.
So no matter how good a person feels, they should work with their doctor to establish and maintain a healthy blood pressure.
For adults 20 years and older, the American Heart Association places blood pressure readings into 5 categories. Listed below, these pressure levels are for people who are not experiencing a serious, short-term illness, and are not taking high blood pressure medication. Note: Any high level reading (or unusually low reading) should always be brought to the attention of your doctor.
1 of every 3 Americans has high blood pressure. That's 67 million people!
As many as 60% of Americans who are 60 and older may have high blood pressure.
About half (47%) of people with high blood pressure have their condition under control.
About 7 of every 10 people having their first heart attack also have high blood pressure.
The rate of high blood pressure among black Americans is one of the highest rates in the world. In addition, when compared to the white population, they develop a problem at an earlier age and their average readings are much higher.
Prior to age 55, more men than women have high blood pressure. After age 65, women take a decisive lead over men.
Here is a tasty smoothie to help lower blood pressure.
Lower My Blood Pressure Smoothie - Makes 2 servings
2/3 c. vanilla yogurt
1 cup orange juice
1 c frozen strawberries
1/2 c. frozen blueberries
large handful of fresh spinach
Place all ingredients in blender until smooth. Enjoy over ice with a straw!
(Sources: American Heart Assn., Nat. Heart, Lung & Blood Inst., CDC.gov)