Get Your Blood Pressure Checked
By Harbor View Medical Services, PC
Did you know? One in 3 Americans have high blood pressure. Get your blood pressure checked regularly starting at age 18.
How often do I need to get my blood pressure checked?
- If you are age 40 or older, or if you are at higher risk for high blood pressure, get your blood pressure checked once a year.
- If you are age 18 to 40 and you aren't at higher risk for high blood pressure, get your blood pressure checked every 3 to 5 years.
What puts me at higher risk for high blood pressure?
You are at higher risk for high blood pressure if you:
- Are African American
- Are overweight or obese
- Have blood pressure that's a little higher than usual (called high normal blood pressure)
What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure is how hard your blood pushes against the walls of your arteries when your heart pumps blood. Arteries are the tubes that carry blood away from your heart. Every time your heart beats, it pumps blood through your arteries to the rest of your body.
What is hypertension?
Hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure. High blood pressure has no signs or symptoms. The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to get tested. By taking steps to lower your blood pressure, you can reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure. Lowering your blood pressure can help you live a longer, healthier life.
What do blood pressure numbers mean?
A blood pressure test measures how hard your heart is working to pump blood through your body. Blood pressure is measured with 2 numbers. The first number is the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats. The second number is the pressure in your arteries between each beat, when your heart relaxes. Compare your blood pressure to these numbers:
- Normal blood pressure is lower than 120/80 (said "120 over 80").
- High blood pressure is 140/90 or higher.
- Blood pressure that's between normal and high (for example, 130/85) is called prehypertension or high normal blood pressure.
"A person's blood pressure typically increases with age. This means that even if your blood pressure was low or normal, over years, it can increase, thus periodic repeat measurements are necessary." stated Dr. Claire Kolensky from Mather Primary Care in Port Jefferson.
How can I get my blood pressure checked?
To test your blood pressure, a nurse or doctor will put a cuff around your upper arm. The cuff will be pumped with air until it feels tight, then the air will be slowly let out. This won't take more than a few minutes. The nurse or doctor can tell you what your blood pressure numbers are right after the test is over. If the test shows that your blood pressure is high, ask the doctor what to do next. Blood pressure can go up and down, so you may need to get it checked it more than once.
Can I check my blood pressure by myself?
Yes. Many shopping malls, pharmacies, and grocery stores have blood pressure machines you can use in the store. You can also buy a home blood pressure monitor at a drug store. If the test shows that your blood pressure is high, talk to a doctor.