Part of being healthy is to have your blood pressure monitored regularly. Knowing your numbers and understanding what they mean is a great first step in managing your overall health. The following information is taken from the Canadian Hypertension Education Program’s 2010 Canadian Recommendations for the Management of Hypertension.
What is blood pressure? The heart pumps blood around your body to every living cell. Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of your blood vessels. This force is necessary to make blood flow, delivering oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. The top number (systolic) is the pressure measurement when your heart pumps the blood out to the body. The bottom number (diastolic) is the pressure measurement when your heart relaxes and fills with blood.
What is high blood pressure? High blood pressure is also known as hypertension. This means there is too much pressure in your arteries. This can damage them and cause health problems. Hypertension is defined as blood pressure that is above the normal range. Anyone can develop high blood pressure, but it is more common as you become older. Once high blood pressure develops, it usually lasts for life unless lifestyle changes are made.
What should your pressure be? For most people the target range is less than 140/90 mmHg. If you have diabetes or kidney disease, the target range is less than 130/80 mmHg.
Why is it important? High blood pressure has no warning signs or symptoms. It is often called the silent killer. More than 1 in 5 Canadians have high blood pressure. Having your blood pressure checked at least once a year is the only way to know your numbers and your risk. The longer high blood pressure goes unnoticed, the more damage is done to your heart, kidneys and all of the blood vessels in your body.
How do I lower my risk? Know your numbers! Be physically active for 30-60 minutes most days of the week. Eat more fruits, vegetables, low fat dairy products, whole grains and lean meat. Eat less salt. Limit fast and processed foods. Limit your alcohol intake to less than nine drinks a week for ladies and less than 14 drinks a week for men. If you are overweight, try to lose 10 per cent of your total body weight. Stop smoking. Finally, if you have high blood pressure, be sure to take your medication as ordered by your health
High blood pressure is one of the leading health problems in Canada. It can cause strokes, heart attacks and kidney failure. It is also related to memory loss and sexual problems. Finding high blood pressure early, treating it and keeping it in the normal range can reduce the risk of developing these problems.
New Project: Recently the Minto-Mapleton Family Health Team (MMFHT) and the Mapleton Health Centre have partnered with the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Ontario and the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care’s Learning Community. Our goal is to help you know your numbers, better manage and control your blood pressure. Our team provides many services to the 12,000 rostered patients. We are currently developing the screening clinics and education sessions for Dr. Chris Donald’s patients at this time. We will be involving the patients of the remaining Doctors and Nurse Practitioners of the MMFHT once this process has been well defined.
Sandy Turner is a Health Promoter with the Minto-Mapleton Family Health Team. For more information about the free services offered by the Minto-Mapleton Family Health Team, visit their website www.mmfht.ca, call their Drayton office at 519-638-2110, or call their Clifford office at 519-327-4777.