14 Feb 2013

Healthy Heart, Happy Heart!

As we celebrate Heart Month in February, Stillwater Billings Clinic encourages you to stop in and have your blood pressure checked. Maintaining healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels as well as eating healthy and getting some exercise leads you on the path to good heart health.

So, how is your blood pressure measured? According the American Heart Association your blood pressure rises with each heartbeat and falls when your heart relaxes between beats. Your blood pressure can vary minute to minute with changes in posture, exercise, stress or sleep. A normal blood pressure reading for an adult age 20 or over is at least 120/80.

What is considered high blood pressure? If your blood pressure reading is higher than normal, your doctor may take readings over time and monitor the variations in your blood pressure. A single high reading doesn’t always mean you have high blood pressure. If readings over time are 140/90 or above your doctor may want to begin a treatment program.

What do those numbers mean? The top number (systolic pressure) which is also the higher of the two numbers, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats or when the heart muscle contracts.

The bottom number (diastolic pressure), is the lower of the two numbers measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats when the heart muscle is resting between beats and refilling with blood.

The American Heart Association recommends a blood pressure screening at your regular healthcare visit or once every two years starting at age 20. High blood pressure is often considered the “silent killer” because many people lead a normal life and don’t even know they have it. More than 76 million U.S. adults have high blood pressure – and many of them don’t know it or don’t experience typical symptoms. High blood pressure is serious. If uncontrolled, high blood pressure can lead to severe health problems. High blood pressure is also the No. 1 cause of stroke.

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