High blood pressure affects one in three Americans—68 million people. Less than half of these individuals have it under control, and 20 percent don’t even know they have the disease because it often shows no signs or symptoms. If this pressure stays high over time, it can lead to kidney disease and other health problems like heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to get screened, which you can do at your doctor’s office, at a pharmacy, at home, or even at health events like the American Kidney Fund’s signature outreach event, Kidney Action Day.
The Kidney Connection
If you’re reading this blog, you or someone you know may be affected by kidney disease. What’s the connection? Having high blood pressure puts you more at risk for kidney disease. By keeping a healthy blood pressure, you can help prevent or slow kidney disease.
Why are the two diseases linked? At its simplest, high blood pressure means that the force of blood pushing through your body is too strong. That pressure puts a strain on your arteries and causes damage to your body. If this pressure stays high over time, it can lead to kidney disease and other health problems like heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
The good news is that many lifestyle changes—like eating right, being active, reducing stress, setting alcohol limits or stopping tobacco use—can lower your blood pressure while improving kidney health.
Measure, Monitor, Maintain
Our Measure Up/Pressure Down® national campaign created three easy steps for you to get in control of the disease:
- Measure. Knowing your numbers should be the first step! Find a time and place for a blood pressure reading—like your doctor’s office, local pharmacy, a screening event or even at home. Remember that many factors can affect your numbers so be sure to follow our directions for an accurate reading.
- Monitor. Check and record your blood pressure numbers on a regular basis so you can see any changes. Remember that your blood pressure consists of two numbers—the top number (systolic reading) is your blood pressure at the moment your heart beats, while the bottom number (diastolic) is your pressure at the moment between heart beats. This chart shows what your numbers mean, but be sure to talk with your doctor as your goals and treatment plan might be different:
- Maintain. Lifestyle changes and medication use can help those with high blood pressure get in control. Modifications may include eating healthy, being active, reducing stress, setting alcohol limits, stopping tobacco use, or taking blood pressure medicine.
Roll Up Your Sleeves!
This May, we’re working with nearly 150 medical groups across the nation to help patients like you learn about high blood pressure, the risks it poses, and what people can do to prevent and manage it. Want to get involved? Here are four easy ways:
- In celebration of the Measure Up/Pressure Down® National Day of Action on May 15, our supporters will be offering free blood pressure screenings, educational materials, giveaways, and more. Find activities in your area here.
- Join our Thunderclap on social media, and you and others will share the same message at the same time, spreading an important message about blood pressure control through Facebook and Twitter that cannot be ignored. Visit our Thunderclap page by May 15 and simply link your organization’s Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr account. When we meet our goal, the message will be shared to followers, fans, and friends.
- Get daily updates and tips for blood pressure control by following us on Twitter and Facebook. Bonus! Throughout the month of May, we’re giving away prizes to followers including home blood pressure monitors, recipe books, and more.
- Download our Circulation Nation: Your Roadmap to Managing High Blood Pressure patient booklet. You can follow the stories of 10 characters from across the nation who each battle and address a different risk factor for high blood pressure. Our tips—gathered from the largest and most respected medical groups and health organizations across the nation—will help you navigate high blood pressure and get on the road to control.
For more information about high blood pressure, visit the Measure Up/Pressure Down® website.
Jerry Penso, M.D., MBA is Chief Quality and Medical Officer at the American Medical Group Association. In his role, Jerry oversees quality initiatives through the American Medical Group Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, including the Measure Up/Pressure Down® campaign. Measure Up/Pressure Down® leverages the coordinated delivery systems of nearly 150 organized systems of care to achieve a goal of 80 percent of patients in control of their blood pressure by 2016. Concurrently, it taps the resources and reach of national partners (including the American Kidney Fund) and sponsors to raise awareness of and improve blood pressure control.