by ALBEE E. BOCKMAN, AEMT-P
“What goes up, must come down!”
I remember as a little boy learning the Laws of Gravity when I went to the Hurleyville School across from what is now Mobilemedic’s building here in town. As an adult, I also learned that in order to go to Monticello, I must go UP Columbia Hill; and to return home I must go DOWN Columbia Hill. Bet you never looked at it quite that way.
Where the Laws of Gravity does not work so well is when it comes to high blood pressure.
When that goes up, it doesn’t necessarily come down. High blood pressure, also known medically as Hypertension, is a condition in which the force of blood against the artery walls is too high. We have been taught that a normal blood pressure is a systolic reading of 120 and a diastolic reading of 80. Hypertension is defined as a blood pressure above 140/90. In the world of Paramedicine, a person is in a “hypertensive crisis” when a reading is found at levels of 180/130 – – or greater. Readings of this nature need to be addressed immediately by seeking professional medical assistance.
Hypertension is a very treatable condition that requires a medical diagnosis and lab tests. However, if left untreated, can lead to a heart attack or Cerebral Vascular Accident, commonly known as STROKE. Both can be very debilitating and may lead to death.
The crazy thing about high blood pressure is it often has no symptoms. You may possess it for years and not even know it. This is why seeing your physician for a yearly physical exam and blood work is so critical. The risk of high blood pressure increases as we age. It is more common amongst men. Women are more likely to develop this condition after age 65. Also important to note is hypertension tends to run in the family. When you see your doctor for those yearly visits, let the Doc know your family history. Our weight plays a major role as well. The more we weigh the more blood you need to supply oxygen to the tissues. As the amount of blood blow through our blood vessels, the more pressure against the artery walls.
We have always been told how important exercise is to having good health. Sometimes our busy lives tend to hamper physical activity. Even the smallest effort to move a little more helps greatly. Parking a little further away from ShopRite or Walmart and walking a few extra yards is a great start. You will find walking as a super way to shed a few pounds and find yourself even sleeping a little better at night.
One serious risk factor is SMOKING. Not only does smoking immediately raise your blood pressure temporarily, but the chemicals in tobacco can damage the lining of the artery wall. This causes the arteries to narrow and increase your risk of heart disease. Another important risk factor is STRESS. High levels of stress can lead to an increase in one’s pressure. Stress-related habits such as eating more, using tobacco, or drinking too much alcohol can lead you down this path of destruction.
In summation, you can address hypertension in a couple of ways. Self-care is a good first step. Walking, watching your stress levels, quit smoking, eating better, and watching your blood pressure by using home blood pressure monitors can get you started in the right direction.
Should your blood pressure readings continue to be elevated, it just may be time for the addition of medication. Antihypertensive drugs work! Not only do they bring your pressure down but they allow you to lead a healthier and safer lifestyle.
Don’t hesitate dropping by our office to have your blood pressure checked by one of our Technicians. “A pound of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.
Stay well and safe, Hurleyville!