What is your blood pressure IQ?

There are a lot of opinions about high blood pressure. About one in three Americans has high blood pressure, but nearly one third of them don’t even know it.

“There are a billion people in the world that have hypertension, high blood pressure!” said Dr. David L. Brown, director of interventional cardiology at The Heart Hospital.

High blood pressure can also come in many different forms. So how do you know what to believe and what not to?

In today’s Medical Moment, we give you a blood pressure IQ test so you can get to the truth.

Fact or fiction: you need to monitor both arms when measuring blood pressure.

A British study found that differences in blood pressure between your left and right arms could increase the risk of death.

Here’s another: avoiding table salt lowers your risk.

Not necessarily. Up to 75 percent of the sodium you consume is hidden inside processed foods, so be sure to check your labels.

True or false: A small increase in blood pressure isn’t a big deal.

"For every ten millimeters of blood pressure increase, you have the doubling of heart attacks, the doubling of strokes,” said Brown.

Here’s a big one – do men and women have an equal risk for high blood pressure?

Yes! While men do tend to develop the condition at a younger age, women catch up after menopause.

Fact or fiction: only meds can lower blood pressure.

Fiction! Lifestyle makes a difference too. The Dash Diet can reduce blood pressure in just 14 days and by 8 to 14 points over time.

Finally, are warning signs difficult to spot?

Besides a rare headache, high blood pressure usually has no signs or symptoms.

Remember that the American Heart Association recommends limiting daily sodium intake to no more than 1,500 milligrams. When you consume too much sodium, your body holds extra water in order to “wash” the salt from your body.

This can cause a rise in blood pressure and put added stress on your heart and blood vessels.

Now you know the facts about blood pressure which will help you keep yours in check.

REPORT #1994

BACKGROUND: About 1 in 3 adults in the United States has high blood pressure (HBP). The condition itself usually has no signs or symptoms. You can have it for years without knowing it. During this time, though, HBP can damage your heart, blood vessels, kidneys, and other parts of your body. HBP is a serious condition that can lead to coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure, and other health problems. (SOURCE: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health)

SYMPTOMS: High blood pressure is a symptomless disease, so it is often referred to as the "silent killer." Although a few people with early-stage high blood pressure may have dull headaches, dizzy spells or a few more nosebleeds than normal, these signs and symptoms typically don't occur until high blood pressure has reached a severe -- even life-threatening -- stage. (SOURCE: http://www.heart.org; www.mayoclinic.com)

KNOW YOUR NUMBERS: Blood pressure is measured as systolic and diastolic pressures. "Systolic" refers to blood pressure when the heart beats while pumping blood. "Diastolic" refers to blood pressure when the heart is at rest between beats. Knowing your blood pressure numbers is important, even when you're feeling fine.
(SOURCE: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health)

RISKS FACTORS: High blood pressure has many risk factors, including:

* Age
* Race
* Weight

Although high blood pressure is most common in adults, children may be at risk, too. For some children, high blood pressure is caused by problems with the kidneys or heart. But for a growing number of kids, poor lifestyle habits -- such as an unhealthy diet and lack of exercise -- contribute to high blood pressure.
(SOURCE: www.mayoclinic.com)

TREATMENT: HBP is treated with lifestyle changes and medicines. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (the DASH diet) is a lifelong approach to healthy eating that's designed to help treat or prevent high blood pressure (hypertension). The DASH diet encourages patients to reduce the sodium in their diet and eat a variety of foods rich in nutrients that help lower blood pressure, such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium. For a Dash Diet sample menu log onto http://dashdiet.org/sample_menu.asp
(SOURCE: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health; www.mayoclinic.com)

? For More Information, Contact:

Susan Hall
Media Relations Manager
Baylor Health Care System

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