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This Valentine's Day, Show Your Heart Some Love

This Valentine's Day, Show Your Heart Some Love

Valentine's Day revolves around romance, roses, and sweet treats for the ones we love. ATRIO Health Plans applauds February 14th, because the loved ones in our lives are the center of our lives. ATRIO additionally thinks that Cupid's big day is an ideal time to also show your heart some love.

The reason is simple. Your overall health – and the health of your heart – go hand in hand. And maintaining a normal blood pressure is central to the wellness of your heart.

Blood Pressure Basics

High blood pressure – which also is referred to as hypertension – occurs when the force of the blood traveling through your blood vessels is consistently at a rate that's too high.

If you have high blood pressure, you belong to a large club. In fact – some 80-million Americans, which equates to one of every three adults over age 20 – fall into the high-blood-pressure category. Equally alarming, nearly 20 percent don't even know they have high blood pressure, since hypertension is often stealthily free of symptoms and thus appropriately dubbed the "silent killer."

Your blood pressure is presented in the form of two numbers:

  • Systolic blood pressure (the upper number) — reflects how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls with each heartbeat. For those over age 50, this upper number serves as a red flag for cardiovascular disease.
  • Diastolic blood pressure (the lower number) — measures how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls while resting between beats.

The chart below, provided by the American Heart Association (AHA), presents five blood-pressure categories.

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The best way to determine which category you're in is to have your blood pressure checked by a medical professional. And if your blood pressure hasn't been taken relatively recently, give your heart a potentially lifesaving Valentine's present by scheduling an appointment.

Hypertension isn't a condition that should be ignored. If left undetected and untreated, high blood pressure can lead to:

  • heart attack;
  • stroke;
  • heart failure;
  • kidney disease;
  • kidney failure;
  • vision loss;
  • sexual dysfunction;
  • angina;
  • peripheral artery disease.

Medication Plays a Crucial Role

If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, don't panic. Hypertension can be well managed through a combination of taking prescription medication and leading a healthy lifestyle.

If you are prescribed hypertension medication, it's crucial that you play an active role in maximizing your heart health. Toward that end, the AHA recommends that you:

  • Check with your physician before taking over-the-counter medications, such as decongestants, that could negatively impact your blood pressure.
  • Take you hypertension medication precisely as you are instructed to. It's critical that you don't miss even a single day, and it's vital that you take the exact dosage prescribed.
  • Understand that you may require more than one medication to properly manage your blood pressure.
  • Never – regardless of how well you're feeling – reduce your prescription or stop taking it entirely. Doing so can, literally, threaten your life. If you have concerns about your medications, contact your healthcare provider.

ATRIO wishes everyone a happy, heart-smart Valentine's Day.

Sources:

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/GettheFactsAboutHighBloodPressure/The-Facts-About-High-Blood-Pressure_UCM_002050_Article.jsp#.WHe_ZVMrJaQ

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/GettheFactsAboutHighBloodPressure/How-High-Blood-Pressure-is-Diagnosed_UCM_301873_Article.jsp#.WHfCm1MrJaQ

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/LearnHowHBPHarmsYourHealth/Health-Threats-From-High-Blood-Pressure_UCM_002051_Article.jsp#.WHfA-1MrJaQ

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/MakeChangesThatMatter/Managing-High-Blood-Pressure-Medications_UCM_303246_Article.jsp#.WHfFbFMrJaQ

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/PreventionTreatmentofHighBloodPressure/What-You-Should-Know-About-High-Blood-Pressure-and-Medications_UCM_301888_Article.jsp#.WHfE8lMrJaQ

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/UnderstandSymptomsRisks/Why-High-Blood-Pressure-is-a-Silent-Killer_UCM_002053_Article.jsp#.WHfDulMrJaQ