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High Blood Pressure: Five Must-know Facts

There is a good reason most health care provider visits start with a blood pressure check. Nearly half of all American adults have high blood pressure, and many do not know it. For that reason, Aspirus health experts encourage people to stay on top of their health and schedule routine visits with their provider.

 “High blood pressure doesn’t always cause obvious symptoms,” said Katie Frankwick, PA-C, physician assistant with Aspirus Clinic - Marshfield. “Untreated high blood pressure is dangerous. It raises your risk of a heart attack, stroke, kidney disease and vision loss. But once it is detected, it can be controlled.”

Frankwick offers the following facts about this widespread condition:

  1. Blood pressure is measured in two numbers (such as 112/78 mm Hg). The top (systolic) number is the pressure when your heart beats. The bottom (diastolic) number is the pressure when your heart rests between beats.
  2. For most people, normal blood pressure is below 120/80. Elevated blood pressure is a systolic pressure of 120-129 and a diastolic pressure of less than 80. High blood pressure is a systolic pressure of 130 or higher or a diastolic pressure of 80 or higher that stays high over time.
  3. Family history and race are risk factors. If your parents or a close blood relative had high blood pressure, you're more likely to get it too. African Americans tend to develop high blood pressure more than any other racial group in the U.S.
  4. Your lifestyle choices matter. For instance, an unhealthy diet (especially processed foods and fast food) can make blood pressure creep up. So can being inactive, overweight, or drinking alcohol. “The good news is healthy habits can help prevent high blood pressure,” said Frankwick. “And they can bring it down when it's high.”
  5. Medicine may also be a part of treatment. If your provider wants you to take blood pressure medicine, use it exactly as prescribed. Taking a pill every other day or splitting it in two to make the medicine last longer is risky. And remember: High blood pressure medicine is never a substitute for healthy habits.

Katie Frankwick, PA-C cares for children and adults of all ages at the new Aspirus Clinic - Marshfield, located in Founder’s Square at 146 N. Central Avenue. To schedule an appointment, call 715.898.1238. To learn more about Aspirus Clinic – Marshfield, visit aspirus.org/Marshfield

To learn more about controlling your blood pressure, check out 9 ways to take charge of your blood pressure on the Aspirus website.