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Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is one of the most important screenings because high blood pressure usually has no symptoms so it can’t be detected without being measured. High blood pressure greatly increases your risk of heart disease and stroke. If your blood pressure is below 120/80 mm Hg, be sure to get it checked at least once every two years, starting at age 20. If your blood pressure is higher, your doctor may want to check it more often. High blood pressure can be controlled through lifestyle changes or medication. After age 65, women have a higher risk of high blood pressure than men, and African-American adults of all ages have a higher-than-average risk.

Blood pressure measures how much force a person’s blood is putting on the artery walls as the heart pumps. High blood pressure, or hypertension, occurs when that person’s heart has to work extra hard to pump blood throughout the body. High blood pressure often happens when arteries lose their elasticity through hardening caused by cholesterol, plaque or scarring.

Screening for high blood pressure

  • Quick and easy, this test is performed at every one of our heart screenings. It involves a pressure cuff being placed around your upper arm to monitor both diastolic and systolic blood pressure. The results are then compared to a standardized blood pressure chart.

Warning signs

  • Many people do not experience symptoms of high blood pressure. It’s important to compare your blood pressure measurements to a standardized blood pressure chart like the one below.

Risk factors

  • Age
  • Race
  • Family History
  • Obesity or Overweight
  • Tobacco Use
  • Too Much Salt
  • Too Little Potassium
  • Too Little Vitamin D
  • Alcohol Use
  • Stress

Recommended Schedule for Screening Tests

Recommended Screenings How Often? Starting when?
Blood pressure Each regular healthcare visit or at least once every 2 years if blood pressure is less than 120/80 mm Hg Age 20
Cholesterol (“fasting lipoprotein profile” to measure total, HDL and LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides) Every 4-6 years for normal-risk people; more often if any you have elevated risk for heart disease and stroke Age 20
Weight / Body Mass Index (BMI) During your regular healthcare visit Age 20
Waist circumference As needed to help evaluate cardiovascular risk. This is a supplemental measurement if your BMI is greater than or equal to 25 kg/m2. Age 20
Blood glucose test At least every 3 years Age 45
Discuss smoking, physical activity, diet Each regular healthcare visit Age 20

Other Factors To Consider

  • Stress: Individual response to stress may be a contributing factor.
  • Alcohol: If you drink, limit your alcohol consumption to no more than two drinks per day for men and no more than one drink per day for women. Heavy drinking can increase risk of high blood pressure, obesity, stroke and other diseases.
  • Diet and Nutrition: A healthy diet is one of the best weapons you have to fight cardiovascular disease.

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