Share The Health

National High Blood Pressure Education Month Aims to Encourage Healthy Lifestyles


When was the last time you had your blood pressure checked? Chances are you’ve been too busy, don’t remember, or maybe you’re even avoiding it. Frederick Memorial Hospital is proud to participate in National High Blood Pressure Education Month this May. High blood pressure is a common health issue, but there are steps you can take to get it under control. Living healthy, limiting your sodium intake, and understanding who could be at greater risk, are all important factors when it comes to keeping your blood pressure under control.

So, What is High Blood Pressure?

When someone is suffering from high blood pressure, blood is flowing through their blood vessels at higher than normal pressures. Blood pressure is considered abnormally high when it gets above 120/80 mmHg. There are two types of blood pressure, primary and secondary. Primary high blood pressure is the most common, as it tends to develop over time. Secondary high blood pressure occurs due to a separate medical condition or the use of certain medications.

Unlike most diseases, high blood pressure has no symptoms, which is why it’s important to check it regularly. Many people who suffer from high blood pressure feel fine, when in reality they need to adopt a healthier lifestyle before it’s too late.

Who’s at Risk?

High blood pressure can affect anyone, but there are certain demographics that are more susceptible to it than others. The older you are, the more likely it is that you can suffer from high blood pressure. About 65% of Americans over the age of 60 have high blood pressure. African-Americans are more likely than Caucasians or Hispanic Americans to get high blood pressure early in life. Individuals who are overweight are at a greater risk for prehypertension and high blood pressure.

While men are more likely to develop high blood pressure before the age of 55, more women than men develop high blood pressure on average after age 55. A family history of the disease can also suggest a higher likelihood of high blood pressure.

What are the Causes?

The key to keeping your blood pressure down is living a healthy lifestyle and taking care of your body. Eating too much sodium or too little potassium greatly increases the risk of developing high blood pressure, making it important to achieve a balanced diet. It’s also important to get up and be active. Exercising every day can go a long way toward maintaining a healthy lifestyle and keeping blood pressures low. Excessive alcohol intake can also lead to high blood pressure.

Unfortunately, there’s one cause of high blood pressure that we can’t always monitor and control, and that’s stress. In order to reduce stress and keep your blood pressure down, it’s important to get rest, practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation, and take care of yourself both mentally and physically.

Limiting Sodium

We need sodium to live, but too much of it can negatively impact our health and significantly raise our blood pressure. Known as the “silent killer,” it’s one of the greatest reasons why one-third of American adults have high blood pressure and 90%of American adults are expected to develop it over the course of their lives. Excessive sodium in your bloodstream pulls water into your blood vessels, which increases the amount of blood inside your blood vessels and in turn increases your blood pressure.

Unfortunately, most of the sodium that we consume is already in our food before we buy it, making it difficult to limit how much of it we eat. Cutting down on sodium intake means avoiding foods like bread, pizza, soup, sandwiches, and prepared poultry. It’s estimated that cutting your sodium intake down to 1,500 mg a day could result in a 25.6 percent decrease in blood pressure.

Grocery Shopping Tips

Now that you know how important reducing your sodium intake is to lowering blood pressure, you want to make sure that you’re eating healthier. But, it can be difficult to know which foods contain large amounts of sodium. When grocery shopping, look out for certain ingredients that may contain high levels of sodium. Other than clear indicators such as “salt” or “sodium,” ingredients like disodium guanylate and disodium inosinate suggest the food item is high in sodium.

Want to jumpstart a healthier lifestyle? Join FMH for our next grocery store tour! Lead by a registered dietitian and a registered nurse, this event will help you to find food options that lower the risk of hypertension, high blood pressure, and heart failure. To find out more about the next grocery store tour and register for a space, call 240-457-3293.

Help Us Prevent High Blood Pressure

Keeping your blood pressure low can be tough, but there are steps that can be taken to limit your risk and develop a healthy lifestyle. Eating healthy and limiting sodium, being physically active and staying in shape, and managing stress are the most important factors when it comes to keeping your blood pressure in check.

Please join FMH this May as we support National High Blood Pressure Education Month. Consider getting your blood pressure checked, or encourage a family member or a friend to do so. You never know whose life you could be saving.