Do You Know Your Credit Score? What About Your Blood Pressure?

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Many Americans know where they stand with their financial numbers, but what about health numbers, specifically blood pressure – which can determine life or death? 

May is National High Blood Pressure Awareness Month. The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) wants to take this opportunity to urge people to get their blood pressure checked — find out where they stand — and get proper medical treatment if it happens to be too high. 

About  one in three US adults (68 million) have high blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  This increases the risk for heart disease and stroke, which are leading causes of death in this country. 

"If you asked most people on the street if they have high blood pressure, they wouldn't know the answer," said Dr. Andrew Sama, president of the ACEP.  "They may not realize that it affects people of all ages, different backgrounds and health history. In other words, they could be at risk and not even know it." 

Blood pressure usually rises and falls throughout any given day. But if it stays consistently high, it could cause certain serious health problems. High blood pressure was the primary or contributing cause of death for more than 348,000 Americans in 2009, according to the CDC.

The good news is high blood pressure is easily manageable if you take a few steps. 

Follow doctors instructions and properly take medications you are prescribed. About 70 percent of adults with high blood pressure use medications to treat it. 

-Control your diet. Eat foods low in sodium, total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol. Make sure to eat lots of fruits and vegetables.

-Don't smoke. If you do, quit as soon as possible.

-Exercise regularly – even if it's just a short walk a few times a week. 

"It's a simple thing to get it checked," said Dr. Sama.  "Make an appointment and find out where you stand.  If it's normal, great.  If not, we can help put you on the right course to fixing it."