The ‘silent killer’ affects 1 in 3 Americans
By: Dr. Manuj Goel
Medical Director, Beloit Area Community Health Center
High blood pressure affects one in three Americans and is often referred to as the silent killer. The good news is that high blood pressure is treatable and preventable. At the Beloit Area Community Health Center, we like to talk with our patients about preventable options and being proactive in taking care of their heart.
High blood pressure or hypertension is when your blood pressure, the force of blood flowing through your blood vessels is consistently too high. A normal blood pressure is when the systolic (or the higher number) is less than 120 mmHg and the diastolic (the lower number) is less than 80 mmHg.
If left untreated high blood pressure, over the course of time, can lead to a heart attack, stroke or kidney disease. It can also affect your vision. This is why I recommend checking your blood pressure periodically and when you see your primary health care provider.
Some of the risks factors for hypertension include age, family history, using tobacco, drinking too much alcohol or race. Hypertension is more prevalent in people 60 years of age or older and African Americans also have a higher prevalence of hypertension compared with non-Hispanic whites and Hispanics.
Prevention, of course, is the best course of action – and you can do that by maintaining a normal body weight; reducing the amount of salt in your diet; consuming a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products; and exercising at least 30 minutes a day on most days of the week.
If you haven’t been exercising or consuming lots of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis – start slow and set a goal for yourself. Try walking 30 minutes two days a week and incorporating a fruit and vegetable option in your diet. Before beginning an exercise program, it is always a good idea to talk with your health care provider.
Our clinic operates on a sliding fee scale for uninsured or underinsured patients. We also accept Medicaid, Badger Care and Medicare. For more information, or to schedule an appointment with a primary health care provider at our clinic, please call 608-361-0311.