American Heart Association (Nurse taking a patient's blood pressure)

Nearly half of American adults have high blood pressure, and about 75% of those with high blood pressure don’t have it under control. High blood pressure is the leading cause of heart attack and stroke and the most significant controllable risk factor for these conditions. It is also a contributing factor for worst outcomes for people contracting COVID-19. 

“Now, more than ever, it is important for you to pay attention to your blood pressure, know your numbers, work with your healthcare provider to control your levels and manage your risks. Lowering your blood pressure is one of the most important things you can do to reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke,” said Dr. Mitchell S.V. Elkind, president of the American Heart Association and professor of neurology and epidemiology at Columbia University in New York City.

 Manage your blood pressure, control it, and live longer. Small changes can make a big difference in managing your blood pressure:

  • Check your blood pressure regularly. 120/80 or below is considered normal. If your blood pressure is 130/80 or above, that is high blood pressure and means an increased risk for heart disease and stroke.
  • Take blood pressure medication as prescribed. Prescription medication can be one of the most effective ways to manage your blood pressure. If you have concerns, let your doctor know. They may be able to adjust your prescriptions and get you back on track.
  • Read the labels on over-the-counter medicines. Over-the-counter medicine can be as important as your prescription medicine to managing your blood pressure. Make sure to read the labels when shopping for over the counter medications. Pain relievers such as ibuprofen and naproxen can raise blood pressure. The American Heart Association recommends considering acetaminophen for pain as an alternative.Talk to your doctor about pain relievers that are right for you.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Strive for a body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9.
  • Eat healthfully. Eat lots of fruit, vegetables and whole grains. Select low-fat dairy products, lean meats, and reduce saturated and total fat.
  • Reduce sodium/salt. Ideally, stay under 1,500 mg a day, but aim for at least a 1,000 mg per day reduction. 
  • Be active. Aim for at least 150 minutes of activity per week, with a combination of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity.
  • Limit alcohol. Drink no more than 1-2 drinks a day. (One for most women, two for most men.) If you don’t drink, don’t start.
  • No Smoking. Both tobacco products and vaping have nicotine that can raise your blood pressure. If you don’t smoke, don’t start.

“High blood pressure is so out of control in the U.S. that we’ve made it a top priority here at the American Heart Association. To punctuate the seriousness of the issue, the U.S. Surgeon General recently released a Call to Action to Control Hypertension,” said Dr. Denise Hooks-Anderson, American Heart Association St. Louis Board president.

In St. Louis, the American Heart Association provides support to federally qualified health centers, local church and community programs to help people to manage their blood pressure and keep it at a healthy range.

The American Heart Association’s efforts to improve healthy choices related to living with high blood pressure is proudly supported by TYLENOL.

See the Call to Action at https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/CTA.htm.

For more information visit Heart.org/bptools.

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