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HEALTHWATCH: Knowing your blood pressure numbers could save yoru life
The most common risk factor for heart attack and stroke is Hypertension.
And millions of Americans have it.
Channel Three's Jim Carmack looks at ways to keep your blood pressure under control
Jim Carmack/Channel 3 News
"It's just 2 little numbers. But knowing what they are and what they mean could save your life."
Maintaining a normal blood pressure is part of a healthy lifestyle. But what classifies as "normal"?
Jolene "Well it used to be 120/80, but mine's even lower than that!"
Susie "I think 120/80 is normal, so I think they're not really concerned until you get up to like 140, something like that."
The first number is the pressure your heart exerts when it contracts. The second, when the heart is at rest. 120/80 is considered a normal blood pressure range. New medical guidelines say most of us need to act if we are consistently above those numbers.
Dr. Vishal Gujral/Sacred Heart Health System
"By definition, if you're over 140/90, younger than 60 or you're a diabetic and have kidney disease, then you have hypertension. If you're over 60, that number increases to 150/90."
It's estimated that over 1/3 of the adult US. Population has hypertension, or high blood pressure. The problem is some don't even know because there are no obvious symptoms.
"So a lot of times this goes unnoticed. But the important part, our job is to convey what the risks associated with this disease process are, and then really for you to not wait until something bad happens."
Jessica Wheeler was told she has high blood pressure after her daughter was born. It was news she took very seriously.
"My dad's had a heart attack, my grandfathers had several bypasses, on both sides, so it's a very real thing to me."
Hypertension can lead to more than just heart damage. It can be a contributing cause of a stroke, kidney disease, thyroid problems, sleep apnea and more. But you *can respond to the danger before it's too late.
"So if you have pre-hypertension, go out and start exercising, reduce your salt intake, those are some of the things you can do to help us achieve this goal together."
Healthy lifestyle changes, like eating well, not smoking, limiting alcohol and exercising can make a big difference in your blood pressure, even before medications are involved. The keys are consistency and awareness. It's something wheeler says is worth the effort.
"I want to keep my heart healthy and I don't want to have the high blood pressure. I don't want anything else that could go along with it."
For your Healthwatch report, Jim Carmack, Channel 3 News.
For more health related news head over to weartv.com and click on the Health Watch tab.