It’s National High Blood Pressure Education Month

Screen shot 2014-03-14 at 9.47.23 AMMay is National High Blood Pressure Education Month and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute encourage all Americans to keep a check on your blood pressure to reduce your risk of several chronic diseases. This month, take action and find out what your blood pressure numbers are, what they mean, and what to do to prevent or control this all too common condition.
The NHBLI warns that high blood pressure is a dangerous condition.  Sometimes known as the silent killer, many people do not exhibit symptoms, so you may not even know you have it.  Over time, high blood pressure can lead to heart disease, stroke and kidney disease which are ranked 1st, 3rd and 9th among the leading causes of death in the U.S.
The good news is that high blood pressure can be prevented, and if your blood pressure is high, it can be controlled.  You can work on making a few lifestyle changes, the following are suggestions from several reliable sources including Extension, USDA and the NHBLI:
●If you weigh more than is recommended for your height, work on losing weight, and work on maintaining a healthy weight.
●Become more physically active – walk, ride a bike or yard work are all example of physical activities.  The U.S. Dietary Guidelines now recommends that you get at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day.   If you have trouble getting 30 minutes, try 10 -15 minutes a couple times a day.  All activity is helpful.
●Follow a healthy eating plan.  If you aren’t sure how to begin, contact the Extension office for fact sheets to get you on the right track.  Choose MyPlate website, sponsored by USDA, it also has great consumer information.
●Eat less salt and sodium. Any seasoning with the word “salt” in it needs to be eliminated from your food preparation.  This means switching to herbs and spices to season the food you eat.  An example would be to use garlic powder instead of garlic salt.
Research has shown that a healthy eating plan called DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) can reduce your chances of developing high blood pressure and it has positive results in lowering blood pressure.  A detailed fact sheet with details of the DASH diet can be downloaded from the NHBLI’s
website at www.nhlbi.nih.gov/hbp/index.html.  The plan emphasizes fresh fruits, fresh vegetables and low fat dairy products and is moderate in total fat and low in saturated fat and cholesterol.  It also includes whole grains, poultry, fish and nuts.  There are many eating strategies to help reduce your salt and sodium intake.
Of course, you can get fact sheets on healthful eating and reducing fat and sodium in your diet by contacting the Madison County Extension Office.  Call or stop by the office for your free copies.
The University of Florida IFAS/Extension is an Equal Opportunity Institution.
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