May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month. The following is information from the National Center for Chronic Disease Promotion, Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention.

Less is better in some things, including in blood pressure. About 1 to 3 US adults-67 million people-have high blood pressure. High blood pressure makes your heart work too hard and increases your risk of heart disease and stroke.

You can have high blood pressure and not know it. That is why it is called the ‘silent killer.’ It is also why it is so important to have your blood pressure checked.

It is easy and painless to check blood pressure. It can be checked by your doctor and many pharmacies have free screenings.

Blood pressure is the force of blood on the walls of your blood vessels as blood flows through them. This pressure naturally rises and falls during the day, but when it is consistently too high, it is considered high blood pressure. The medical term is ‘hypertension.’

Like the pipes in your house, your arteries can fail if they are under too much pressure.

More than 360,000 American deaths in 2010 included high blood pressure as a primary or contributing cause; that is 1,000 deaths a day!

Men and women are equally likely to develop high blood pressure over their lifetimes, but their risks vary at different ages. The condition affects more men than women before 64 years of age. For people aged 65 years or older, more women than men have high blood pressure.

If you have high blood pressure, there are things you can do to get it under control, including:

•Ask your doctor what your blood pressure should be. Set a goal to lower your pressure with your doctor and then discuss how you can reach this goal.

•Take your blood pressure medication as directed. If you are having trouble, ask your doctor what you can do to make it easier. For example, you may want to discuss your medication schedule with your doctor if you are taking multiple drugs at different times of the day. Or you may want to discuss side effects you are feeling, or the cost of your medication.

•Quit smoking-if you don’t smoke, don’t start. You can find tips and resources at CDC’s (the Center for Disease Control) Smoking and Tobacco website or the Be Tobacco Free website.

•Reduce sodium. Most Americans consume too much sodium and it raises blood pressure in most people.

So, during National High Blood Pressure Education Month, have your blood pressure checked and begin thinking about lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk.


Rita Hodges is the Ellis County Extension Agent-Family & Consumer Sciences, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. Visit Rita at the Extension Office located at 701 S. I-35 E, Waxahachie, TX 75165; phone at 972-825-5175; or email at Educational programs of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service are open to all people without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetic information or veteran status. The Texas A&M University System, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the County Commissioners Courts of Texas cooperating.