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Fort HealthCare Johnson Creek Offering Free Blood Pressure Screening Day

Health, Wellness & You
Monday, September 16, 2013

JOHNSON CREEK – Your blood pressure isn’t just a reading at your doctor’s office. It can predict your risk for heart attack, heart failure, or stroke. Simply put, the higher your blood pressure, the higher your risk for these and other deadly diseases. According to the American Heart Association, the progression to high blood pressure occurs within four years of being diagnosed with prehypertension. That’s true for nearly one in three adults ages 35 to 64 and one in two ages 65 and older. Even at these lower levels of blood pressure, doctors start to see damage to the blood vessels.

The Fort HealthCare Johnson Creek clinic is hosting a free blood pressure screening day on Wednesday, September 25 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the clinic. The clinic is located on the lower level of the building at 400 Doctors Court, off of Highway 26 near Menards. Registration is not required, and new patients are encouraged to attend.

Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the artery walls. The force is generated with each heartbeat as blood is pumped from the heart into the blood vessels. The size and elasticity of the artery walls also affect blood pressure. Each time the heart beats (contracts and relaxes), pressure is created inside the arteries.

The pressure is greatest when blood is pumped out of the heart into the arteries. When the heart relaxes between beats (blood is not moving out of the heart), the pressure falls in the arteries. Two numbers are recorded when measuring blood pressure. The top number, or systolic pressure, refers to the pressure inside the artery when the heart contracts and pumps blood through the body. The bottom number, or diastolic pressure, refers to the pressure inside the artery when the heart is at rest and is filling with blood. Both the systolic and diastolic pressures are recorded as "mm Hg" (millimeters of mercury). This recording represents how high the mercury column in the blood pressure cuff is raised by the pressure of the blood.

Blood pressure is measured with a blood pressure cuff and stethoscope by a nurse or other healthcare provider. A person cannot take his or her own blood pressure unless an electronic blood pressure monitoring device is used.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, directly increases the risk of coronary heart disease (heart attack) and stroke (brain attack). With high blood pressure, the arteries may have an increased resistance against the flow of blood, causing the heart to pump harder to circulate the blood. Usually, high blood pressure has no signs or symptoms. However, you can know if your blood pressure is high by having it checked regularly by your health care provider.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has determined two levels of high blood pressure for adults:

  • Stage 1 – 140 mm Hg to 159 mm Hg systolic pressure (higher number) and 90 mm Hg to 99 mm Hg diastolic pressure (lower number). 
  • Stage 2 -160 mm Hg or higher systolic pressure and 100 mm Hg or higher diastolic pressure

The NHLBI defines prehypertension as 120 mm Hg to 139 mm Hg systolic pressure and 80 mm Hg to 89 mm Hg diastolic pressure. The NHLBI guidelines define normal blood pressure as less than 120 mm Hg systolic pressure and less than 80 mm Hg diastolic pressure.

These numbers should be used as a guide only. A single elevated blood pressure measurement is not necessarily an indication of a problem. Your physician will want to see multiple blood pressure measurements over several days or weeks before making a diagnosis of hypertension (high blood pressure) and initiating treatment. A person who normally runs a lower-than-usual blood pressure may be considered hypertensive with lower blood pressure measurements than 140/90.

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