High blood pressure...
- Is the #1 risk factor for stroke
- Is a major factor for heart disease
- Affects 20% of Canadians
- 42% of Canadians who have it, don't know they have it
Are you under pressure?
To find out if you're at risk, click here.
What is high blood pressure?
Blood pressure (hypertension) is a measure of the pressure or force of blood against the walls of your blood vessels called arteries. The top number represents the pressure when your heart contracts and pushes blood out (systolic) and the bottom number is the lowest pressure when the heart relaxes between beats (diastolic).
Blood pressure that is consistently more than 140 / 90 mm Hg is considered high, but if you have diabetes, 130 / 80 mm Hg is high. Normal blood pressure is below 120 / 80 mm Hg.
How it causes heart disease and stroke
Over time high blood pressure can damage blood vessel walls causing scarring that promotes the build-up of fatty plaque, which can narrow and eventually block arteries. It also strains the heart and eventually weakens it. Very high blood pressure can cause blood vessels in the brain to burst resulting in a stroke.
Reduce your pressure. Reduce your risk.
With proper diagnosis and treatment of high blood pressure, you can cut your risk of stroke by up to 40% and heart attack by up to 25%.
Here are some tips to get your blood pressure in check:
- Have your blood pressure checked regularly. High blood pressure often has no symptoms, so have yours checked at least once every two years by a healthcare professional.
- If you have been told you have high-normal blood pressure, Canadian guidelines recommend that you have your blood pressure checked at least once a year. High normal ranges between 130/85 and 139/89.
- If your doctor has prescribed medication, take it as directed.
- Eat a balanced diet, be physically active and smoke-free, and reduce your salt and alcohol intake to help lower your blood pressure. Achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Even a modest reduction in weight, as little as 10%, can dramatically decrease your chances of having a stroke or heart attack.
- Set aside some time every day to relax. Stress can cause blood pressure to rise in the short-term.
- Limit your alcohol intake to 1 to 2 drinks per day to a weekly maximum of 9 for women and 14 for men. If your blood pressure is high, talk to your doctor about how to reduce your alcohol consumption.
- Talk to your doctor about home blood pressure monitoring.