February is American Heart Month
American Heart Month is a time when all people can focus on their cardiovascular health. In 2023 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American medical profession is focusing on hypertension. What is hypertension? It is simply uncontrolled high blood pressure and it is a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Hypertension also puts you at greater risk for kidney failure, vision loss, and cognitive decline.
Unfortunately, high blood pressure is often called the "silent killer" because most people with high blood pressure don't have any symptoms. Because you feel fine, you don't think there is a reason to get your blood pressure checked. Actually, 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. have uncontrolled high blood pressure. In addition, hypertension is not an older person's disease. Over 25% of adults ages 20-44 have high blood pressure and many don't know it.
What can you do? First, get your blood pressure checked and check it regularly. How often is regularly? That is a great question for your healthcare provider and it varies. The CDC provides this simple handout to take with you when talking with your medical provider. However, after getting your first blood pressure check and not having high blood pressure, having it checked every year if you are over the age of 40, or every 3 years if between the ages of 18-39 is recommended.
Where can I get my blood pressure checked? You can get your blood pressure checked by a health care team member at a doctor's office or walk in clinic, at a pharmacy, a mobile clinic or with an at home blood pressure monitor (between $20-$25). Also, Urbandale has a professional fire department that can check your blood pressure for free. Due to the nature of the Fire/EMS business, it is recommended that you call the department at 515.278.3970 prior to visiting.