Preventative Care May save a Trip to the Emergency Room

By Skip Hale

Many senior Americans are foregoing preventative care visits to their family doctors in response to these tough economic times. But by-passing your annual check-up because of a $25 co-payment may end up costing you hundreds of dollars in Emergency Room costs and may even cost you your life! According to the American Heart Association, about half of all deaths from heart disease in the US are sudden and unexpected. Regular screenings and preventative health visits to your family doctor can detect heart disease and many other serious conditions.

High blood pressure is called the silent killer because there are often no symptoms. One of the most common cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure or hypertension, affects one in every four Americans. Fifty-four percent of people older than 60 have high blood pressure, and by the time they reach 70, two in three Americans have it.

Is high blood pressure dangerous?

High blood pressure is blood pressure that consistently reads above 140 over 90 mm HG*. High blood pressure causes undue stress to the circulation of key organs, particularly the brain, heart and kidneys. This leads to increased risk of stroke, heart attack and kidney damage.

Are you at risk for high blood pressure?

Anyone can develop high blood pressure, but some are at greater risk than others. Common risk factors include:

Gender: men are more susceptible to high blood pressure than women.

Heredity: family history may double your chances of developing high blood pressure.

Lifestyle: a diet high in salt, excessive alcohol, smoking, excessive emotional stress and physical inactivity can all contribute.

Obesity: being 20% above your recommended weight may triple your chances of developing high blood pressure.

We can help!

Let us take you to your primary care physician if you are overdue a checkup. Come to our morning exercise classes with Carolyn and join her in the body shop. We have a blood pressure clinic every other Tuesday in the Library. If you are on high blood pressure medication, take it as prescribed. Your health care provider will work with you to develop a treatment plan that is right for you. That person will also tell you what your safe blood pressure numbers are.