BY DR. KENNETH RHINEHART / NOVANT HEALTH CARDIOLOGY & JENNIFER KOENIG / AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION
May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month and American Stroke Month. High blood pressure is the most important controllable risk factor for stroke. Listen to your body and know your numbers to ensure a healthy, happy life.
Worldwide, stroke is the second leading cause of death and a leading cause of serious disability. Stroke is the 5th leading killer in the United States and is the 4th leading cause of death in Forsyth County. About 60 percent of all stroke deaths occur in women. Stroke happens when a clot or rupture interrupts blood flow to the brain. Without oxygen-rich blood, brain cells die and every minute matters.
Now, for some good news! Up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented. Seventy-seven percent of people who have a first stroke have high blood pressure. High blood pressure, often referred to as the silent killer, is a leading cause for stroke. According to the American Stroke Association, lowering your systolic blood pressure by 20 mmHg and lowering your diastolic blood pressure by 10 mmHg may decrease your risk of stroke by about 50%. Everyone should aim for a normal blood pressure of below 120/180.
An estimated 85.7 million Americans have high blood pressure and nearly one in every six Americans that has high blood pressure doesn’t know he or she has it.
One common misconception is that high blood pressure rarely affects women. However, nearly half of all adults with high blood pressure are women. At 65 and older, women are actually more likely than men to get high blood pressure. While high blood pressure isn’t directly related to gender, throughout a woman’s life, health issues like pregnancy, pregnancy prevention (birth control) and menopause can increase the risk of developing high blood pressure.
Novant Health and the American Heart Association have joined together to focus on making a community impact in the blood pressure of Forsyth County residents this year. The goal of engaging 5,000 people with Check. Change. Control. in Forsyth County will have a significant impact on the health of our community.
The focus of the program includes developing positive self-monitoring habits, sharing tools and tips to improve blood pressure, and reducing this risk factor for heart disease and stroke by dropping blood pressure levels to a healthy 120/80.
Get your blood pressure checked today and track it for free at www.heart.org/CheckItTriad. Use code: CCCNH to get personalized tips on how to better control your blood pressure. It is mobile friendly and will send you a notification when it is time to recheck.
For more information about stroke and to find a complete list of the stroke F.A.S.T. warning signs, visit www.StrokeAssociation.org.