Becoming "Heart Healthy," Step 3

Reduce your risks of the “silent killer,” hypertension, by managing blood pressure.

TAMPA, Fla. (Sept. 30, 2010) – Did you know that one out of every three adults has hypertension, the single biggest risk factor for heart disease?

Hypertension, also known as “high blood pressure,” can be deadly because people typically don't have symptoms from the condition. In fact, the American Heart Association reports that approximately 21 percent of people with hypertension have no idea they have it. Hypertension is dangerous, because blood pushes through the arteries with too much force, causing small, microscopic tears. When the tears heal, scar tissue forms and traps plaque and white blood cells, causing blockages, blood clots and weakened arteries.

Fortunately, it's easy to get your blood pressure reading. Many drug stores offer blood pressure machines to use at no cost, and your health care provider can measure your blood pressure during a routine visit.

If your blood pressure is normal (less than 120 mm Hg systolic AND less than 80 mm Hg diastolic), healthy living and eating will help you maintain a normal blood pressure. For those with blood pressure higher than the normal range, the American Heart Association recommends eating a heart-healthy diet, which may include reducing salt; enjoying regular physical activity; maintaining a healthy weight; managing stress; limiting alcohol consumption and avoiding tobacco smoke.

Many USF departments have formed walking teams for the American Heart Association's Heart Walk on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2010. Please click here to find and support your department's team. Don't see your team? Please consider starting one! For questions or more information, please contact the university's Heart Walk Company Leader, Carol Sands, at csands@admin.usf.edu.