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Health and Family Services Cabinet
DPH Urges Kentuckians to Measure Blood Pressure

Press Release Date:  Thursday, May 11, 2006  
Contact Information:  Vikki Franklin or Beth Crace, (502) 564-6786  


May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month

The Kentucky Department for Public Health is urging Kentuckians to increase their awareness of the dangers of high blood pressure throughout the month of May.

“Knowing to call 911 in an emergency can save your life. So can knowing your blood pressure numbers,” said Kentucky Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program Manager Brian Boisseau. “Hopefully, they are less than 120/80 mmHg, which is normal.”

The purpose of National High Blood Pressure Education Month is to encourage people across the country to join the mission to "Prevent and Control High Blood Pressure."

People are encouraged to ask their doctor or health care provider what their blood pressure numbers are, what the numbers mean, and what can be done to lower blood pressure if numbers fall into the pre-hypertension or hypertension categories.

“Blood pressure is the force of blood against the walls of arteries and other blood vessels. It rises and falls during the day,” said Acting Undersecretary for Health William Hacker, M.D. ”When blood pressure remains elevated over a period of time, it becomes high blood pressure, a dangerous condition that dramatically increases a person’s chances of heart attack or stroke.”

Heart disease and stroke are the first and third leading causes of death for Americans. High blood pressure can also lead to other life-threatening conditions, such as heart failure, kidney disease and blindness, according to DPH.

More than one of every three Kentucky adults has high blood pressure. This includes about two out of three Kentuckians older than 65. After reaching age 55, the chances of developing high blood pressure are 9 out of 10. Additionally, almost one of every two Kentucky African-Americans has high blood pressure.

“Fortunately, it is possible to prevent and control high blood pressure. Often simple lifestyle changes can do the trick,” said Boisseau. “People with hypertension should follow health guidelines recommended by physicians and the American Heart Association.”

People diagnosed with hypertension are recommended to do the following: 
· Lose weight, if necessary, and maintain a healthy weight;
· Be physically active;
· Eat less salt and sodium;
· Follow an eating plan rich in fruits and vegetables and low-fat dairy foods, moderate in total fat and cholesterol, and low in saturated fat;
· Limit intake of alcoholic beverages.

If these lifestyle changes aren't enough to reduce your blood pressure, your doctor may prescribe medication. Work closely with your doctor to find the best dose, and then take your medication as your doctor prescribes.

“So join the Mission,” Boisseau added. ”Find out what your blood pressure numbers are and what they mean; then make gradual lifestyle changes and, if necessary, take your medications. It can save your life.”

For more information on how to prevent and control high blood pressure, visit "Your Guide to Controlling High Blood Pressure" online at http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/hbp/index.html.


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Last Updated 5/11/2006