February is American Heart Month and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Million Hearts are partnering together in a national effort to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes in the United States by 2017. The CDC is encouraging Americans to know their blood pressure, and if it’s high, to make control their goal.

American Heart Month - FebruaryUncontrolled high blood pressure is a leading cause of heart disease and stroke. In fact, more than 67 million Americans have high blood pressure. According to the CDC, people with high blood pressure are 4 times more likely to die from a stroke and 3 times more likely to die from heart disease, compared to those with normal blood pressure.

High blood pressure often shows no signs or symptoms, which is why having your blood pressure checked regularly is important. It’s easy to get your blood pressure checked. You can get screened at your doctor’s office, drugstores, any local Clackamas Fire station for an EMT/Paramedic to check your blood pressure, or even check it yourself at home, using a home blood pressure monitor. Track your results in a log or diary to monitor your progress.

Make Control Your Goal

If you know you have high blood pressure, take these steps to help get it under control:

  • Ask your doctor what your blood pressure should be. Set a goal to lower your blood pressure with your doctor and talk about how you can reach your goal. Work with your health care team to make sure you meet that goal. Track your blood pressure over time.
  • Take your blood pressure medicine as directed. Set a timer on your phone to remember to take your medicine at the same time each day. If you are having trouble taking your medicines, or if you are having side effects, ask your doctor for help.
  • Quit smoking – and if you don’t smoke, don’t start. You can find tips and resources at CDC’s smoking and Tobacco website.
  • Reduce sodium intake. Most Americans consume too much sodium, which can raise blood pressure.

It’s up to you to successfully manage and control your blood pressure. But it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. If you take small, manageable steps to make blood pressure control your goal.