This is the first in a series of articles discussing high blood pressure and what you can do to reduce your risk.

You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who decides to skip their medication when they have strep throat.

Unfortunately, it’s often another story when it comes to high blood pressure. This condition affects one in every three Americans and one in every five Canadians. Many of them are Laborers.

Just like strep infections, high blood pressure – also called hypertension – that goes untreated can kill. However, people with high blood pressure usually don’t feel sick. Oftentimes, they don’t know they have it. And if they are aware and have been prescribed medication, they sometimes don’t take it or don’t take it as directed because they feel fine!

LHSFNA’s Health Fairs Offer
High Blood Pressure Screenings

Health fairs are opportunities to have blood pressure and other medical concerns checked for free and without having to take time off to go elsewhere for screenings. To schedule your health fair, call 202-628-5465.

The LHSFNA has a variety of brochures and health alerts pertaining to high blood pressure, heart disease and general wellness. They can be ordered through the Fund’s Publications Catalogue.

High blood pressure is easy to ignore. However, untreated high blood pressure  increases the risk of serious health problems including heart attack and stroke.

You are at increased risk for high blood pressure if:

  • You have family members who have high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes
  • You are African-American
  • You are pregnant
  • You take birth control pills
  • You are over age 60
  • You are overweight
  • You are not physically active
  • You drink a lot of alcohol
  • You eat a lot of fatty foods and a lot of salty foods
  • You smoke

Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and recorded as two numbers: systolic pressure (when the heart beats) over diastolic pressure (when the heart relaxes between beats). The only way to find out if you have high blood pressure – over 120/80 – is to have it checked by a health care professional. Free blood pressure screenings are often available at drug stores, grocery stores and community health fairs. If your blood pressure is elevated, follow up with a health care professional.

Medication taken as prescribed and changes in lifestyle can keep your high blood pressure under control. Your health care provider can help you come up with a plan.

Additional information about high blood pressure can be accessed here:

Next month, a look at how salt and sodium affect blood pressure.

[Janet Lubman Rathner]