May is National High Blood Pressure Month. Roughly 50% of Americans are living with high blood pressure according to the American Heart Association. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, occurs when the force of blood through the artery walls is consistently high over time. This in turn makes the heart work harder and can potentially lead to heart attacks, strokes or other health complications.
Your blood pressure is taken at most (if not all) doctor visits so it’s important to keep your routine appointments. Your blood pressure reads systolic/diastolic (for example: 120/80). The systolic number refers to the pressure when your heart is at work or the muscle is contracting, and the diastolic number describes the pressure when your heart is at rest or between beats. Sometimes the systolic reading can be high with a normal diastolic reading and vice versa. Both numbers are important to keep within their goal range.