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Well and Good: Why Blood Pressure Matters

Have you checked your blood pressure lately? If so, good for you. Untreated blood pressure can lead to many serious conditions, including strokes, heart disease, congestive heart failure, and kidney disease, so it’s good preventative medicine to keep an eye on yours.

However, if you realize you haven’t had it checked since that company physical three years ago, it’s high time you made regular blood pressure checks part of your wellness routine. Even if your blood pressure has always fallen into normal ranges, it’s a good idea to monitor it every few months – especially as you approach, say, age 50. And if you have had a history of recording blood pressure in higher ranges, it’s a good idea to check it more frequently.

First, a refresher course on blood pressure facts. Simply put, blood pressure is the force at which blood pushes against the walls of the arteries. It’s measured in two parts. Systolic measures the highest pressure, when your heart beats, pumping blood into your arteries. Diastolic is the lower range, measured in between heart beats. Blood pressure is expressed with the systolic measurement over the diastolic.

For a healthy adult, 120/80 is considered a normal measurement. The American Heart Association defines high blood pressure as 140/90 or higher. Any measurement between those two numbers is considered prehypertension, and must be carefully monitored as it can cross over into high blood pressure range with little warning. High blood pressure sometimes produces other symptoms, including chest pain, tiredness and vision changes. But more frequently, people suffering from high blood pressure have NO other symptoms!

Your blood pressure can change slightly from day to day, and even vary by time of day. (It is often lower early in the morning, before the stress of daily living has affected you.) Illness, including flu and infections, and certain medications can also cause it to rise. The use of nasal decongestants, for instance, often creates higher blood pressure, even in otherwise-healthy people.

To help you stay on track, the FRESH pharmacy offers free blood pressure screenings, via an easy-to-use station near the pharmacy window. Stop by anytime the store is open and take advantage of this screening tool. (Note: If your first measurement seems higher than normal, relax in our waiting area five minutes and try again. The act of walking through the store, especially if pushing a heavy shopping cart, may have caused your pressure to rise.) Our pharmacists will be happy to help evaluate your results and address any concerns.

However, if you need to check your blood pressure weekly or even daily, you may find it more convenient to purchase an at-home monitor. We sell two varieties of easy-to-use monitors, so you can track your blood pressure at your convenience with just the push of a single button.

Studies show that nearly one in five people who suffer from high blood pressure don’t even know it! Don’t be one of them. Knowing your blood pressure, and taking measures to keep it in a healthy range, is one of the best things you can do for your heart.