High blood pressure health problems
Let’s get real for a minute. You know high blood pressure is bad- it can kill you, disable you slowly, quickly and/or severely. It can also be controlled. But do you know what your numbers are, do you know what they should be, do you care?
The cold hard facts
According to the American Heart Association 50% of men aged 45-54 have high blood pressure. Half of us, HALF! It only increases with age: 70% of men aged 55-64 and 77% of men aged 65-74 have high blood pressure! What’s even worse is that of the 50% – 77% of men our age that have high blood pressure only 50% of men have their blood pressure controlled. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db289.htm
For the Aging Man Crew, this is unacceptable and preventable. It must be prevented if we are going to live a better life.
What havoc does high blood pressure create? The American Heart Association reports that high blood pressure can lead to heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney disease or failure, vision loss, angina (chest pain from heart disease), peripheral artery disease (pain and fatigue), and sexual dysfunction. It is also being studied for its effects on dementia and is reported to be a part of a cluster of problems that raises the risk for diabetes.
If your thinking, “I’ll just do my best, still enjoy life, maybe take some meds to help,” think about this: a study utilizing the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey’s data found that hypertension patients pay around $2,000 more on annual healthcare than their healthy peers. (https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/HYP.0000000000000065) Don’t know about you, but 2000 bucks a year is a nice vacation, new golf clubs, a nice bump in the IRA, etc.
But I don’t have high blood pressure, you say. The CDC reports that hypertension statistics show that around 30% of adults have prehypertension in the United States. So, 50% of us have high blood pressure and 30% of us have prehypertension, that’s 80% of us that need to take action regarding our blood pressure.
What can we do?
The best part is that the power to control blood pressure is in the numbers. There are three steps: know the target numbers, know your numbers, and measure the numbers. The power to control our blood pressure is within our reach.
Know the target numbers
Historically, we have heard the number 120/80 as being the goal. Now, if you are at 120/80 or higher you have pre-hypertension. The current target is no higher than 119 for the top number (systolic) and no higher than 79 for the bottom number (diastolic). (American Heart Association) If your doctor has already set your target for you, of course you follow that target!
Know your numbers
Take your blood pressure. Just do it. Buy a home blood pressure monitor, right now, click one of the links below. I own two different types. I have an above elbow cuff machine and a wrist monitor. Overall, above elbow monitors are considered more accurate than wrist monitors and the brand Omron is considered to have great accuracy.
My above elbow monitor does not have wireless capability, does not do the averaging for you, and does not have an AC power adaptor (batteries only.) I recommend purchasing one with all three capabilities. I’ve included a link to the equivalent of what I currently use both personally and professionally as well as a link to what I will be upgrading to and what you should go with from the start. I will also include a link to the wrist monitor that I have used. (I earn a small commission on these products from Amazon as an Amazon affiliate)
Taking your blood pressure
You can simply follow the directions. In general, it’s recommended you take 3 readings and average them. Some machines will automatically take 3 readings and do the average for you. Go with those machines, we want this to be as automated as possible to develop the habit. (the recommended upgrade listed above)
Now you know the numbers, you know your numbers, and you measure your numbers. Now it’s time to affect your numbers. If you have the recommended blood pressure, that’s GREAT! The following suggestions remain the same. Remember, incidence of high blood pressure increases with age.
Next Blog Post: Tackling your blood pressure
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