Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Protect Your Ticker by Observing Blood Pressure Awareness Month: Take the Steps to Test for and Treat High Blood Pressure

May is blood pressure awareness month. Like all good causes, the National High Blood Pressure Education Program (NHBPEP), as part of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), has decided to designate a month devoted to educating people about the importance of getting their blood pressure tested and lowering their blood pressure if necessary. The annual event may just save people from the dangerous diseases that are caused by untreated high blood pressure.

A good, accurate blood pressure test is a necessary first step to giving you the right information about where you are and what you need to do to keep your blood pressure at a healthy level. Many quick stop blood pressure centers at the pharmacy or even your doctor’s office, don’t always give you the right information. That is because you are usually in a hurry, or perhaps so stressed out by shopping that these tests give you inaccurate readings. Often a false high blood pressure reading is the case, but this may only be a temporary raise. On the other hand, a false low reading can result from faulty equipment or the way the cuff is applied (see the article I published last week on how to get a good blood pressure reading from May 10, 2006.)

There are other ways to make sure you know and understand your blood pressure situation. Follow these steps to stay on top of your heart health by monitoring your blood pressure.

1. Get regular readings at the same time each month. If you are concerned about possible hypertension, then daily monitoring may be necessary. For the average healthy person, monthly, semi-annually or even annual readings are sufficient.

2. If you are borderline hypertensive, take preventative measures immediately. Don’t wait until your blood pressure gets dangerously high to do something about it. Changes in lifestyle and nutrition can greatly impact blood pressure and help you avoid life-long medication. It is easier to get the situation under control if dealt with early on.

3. Prepare for testing by giving yourself time to relax and come to a natural resting heart rate before taking the reading.

4. Don’t take blood pressure measurements immediately after drinking coffee, cola, or other drinks containing caffeine. Also, wait an hour after taking cold or allergy medicines. These raise blood pressure temporarily and will give you a false reading.

5. Blood pressure is different when standing or sitting or suddenly changing position. Don’t take a reading until you have been in the same position for at least a couple of minutes. You can also take readings in both arms and get the average for a more accurate assessment.

The most important part of keeping your blood pressure and heart healthy is knowledge. Learn about how you can eat right, how much to exercise, and what preventative measures you can take each day. If you do all of these things you will be able to keep blood pressure stable even if you have a family history of hypertension. Above all, keep your weight in the healthy range for your height and age. Just losing a few pounds can significantly lower blood pressure and improve your overall health.

To Your Natural Health,

Frank Mangano
Author of "The Silent Killer Exposed"