January 27, 2009
Health Department Urges Residents to 'Know their Numbers'
'Know Your Numbers' Series Part 1 -
For many residents of Oswego County, a new year means new resolutions to exercise more, eat healthier, reduce stress, or quit smoking. This year, Oswego County's Director of Public Health, Dr. Dennis Norfleet, is urging all residents to take charge of their health and know their numbers.
“There are many steps that folks can take now to improve their health and life,” stated Dr. Norfleet. Some of those steps are:
The Oswego County Health Department recommends that adults work with their healthcare providers to learn about key indicators of their risk for major illness including blood pressure, cholesterol level, blood sugar and body mass index.
“If you know these numbers, you can take action to reduce your chances of developing heart disease, diabetes, and other major chronic illnesses,” said Dr. Norfleet.
High blood pressure (hypertension) is a leading and treatable cause of heart disease and stroke. Because there are usually no symptoms, the only way to know that you have high blood pressure is to get it checked. Ideally, you should have it checked once a year. If it is above normal (over 120/80 mmHg), you should follow up with a healthcare provider. Untreated high blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, problems with blood vessels and blood flow, kidney and eye problems, and early death.
Blood pressure is the force in the arteries when the heart beats (systolic pressure) and when the heart is at rest (diastolic pressure). It's measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Blood pressure is measured with 2 numbers. It is written with one number over the other, such as 120/80. Both systolic (top) and diastolic (bottom) numbers are important. Blood pressure is defined as follows:
“If your blood pressure is high, there are things you can do to get your blood pressure under control,” added Dr. Norfleet. Take any medications your doctor prescribes, as directed; choose a heart healthy diet: limit your salt intake, eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; choose lean meat and fish; limit your alcohol consumption; get moving, be physically active for 30 minutes each day; maintain a healthy weight; and stop smoking now.
The Health Department will distribute a series of articles on “the numbers you need to know” over the next few months. For additional information on high blood pressure, contact the Oswego County Health Department at 349-3547 or 1-800-596-3200, ext 3547.
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