May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month 2016-Prevent and Control High Blood Pressure: Mission Possible
Hypertension (high blood pressure) is a major contributor to heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. Because symptoms are not obvious, people sometimes go for years without treatment. Uncontrolled high blood pressure is a problem for many Ontario County residents, making our stroke rate higher than in neighboring counties.
The Ontario County Health Collaborative has been focusing on hypertension for three years. With the help of the Finger Lakes Health System Agency (FLHSA), many medical practices in Ontario County have joined a regional hypertension registry. The registry contains thousands of blood pressure results. Analysis of our first 10,000 entries reveals blood pressure is well controlled about 72% of the time. Not bad, until you consider the uncontrolled 28% represents 2,800 people at risk for heart disease and stroke.
Studies show blood pressure readings can vary significantly depending on time of day, activity level, arm size, caffeine consumption, stress and even posture. Standardizing how blood pressures are taken and giving doctors, nurses and medical assistants opportunities to brush up on technique are other strategies being implemented by the Health Collaborative.
This May, medical providers, public health workers and educators are working together to get the message out about the importance of keeping blood pressure under control and how making a few changes can lower blood pressure.
Here are a few simple tips.
Know your numbers. Get your blood pressure taken regularly.
Take off a few extra pounds. A modest loss can lower your reading significantly.
Eat less salt. Most foods contain sodium. Don’t add extra while cooking or at the table.
Exercise 3-4 times a week.
Drink alcohol in moderation or not at all.
Find a way to stop smoking.
Take BP medications as ordered.
Let your healthcare provider know if you cannot afford your medications.
Attention Healthcare Providers There's more to listening to blood pressures than you think. Technique matters. Cuff placement, patient posture and other factors can affect findings significantly. If your office staff would benefit from a blood pressure auscultation update with hands-on practice, call Ontario County Public Health at 585-396-4343 to set up a free training.
For information about the Finger Lakes Hypertension Registry, click here.