High blood pressure has consequences for your heart

Baptist Health Hardin. February 16, 2023

High blood pressure – also known as hypertension – is linked to heart attack, heart failure and chest pain

ELIZABETHTOWN, KY (Feb. 16, 2023) – High blood pressure is often associated with stroke risk, but it also has consequences for your heart health.

High blood pressure – also known as hypertension – is linked to heart attack, heart failure and chest pain (angina) if unchecked or undetected.

“Keeping your blood pressure with a certain range for your age and gender is important,” said Bart Dawson, MD, cardiologist, who practices at Baptist Health Medical Group Cardiology in Elizabethtown and Lebanon, Kentucky. “If your blood pressure is too high, your blood vessels, heart, brain and other organs may be damaged. If it’s too low, critical organs such as your brain may not be getting sufficient blood flow.”

Historically, a reading of 120/80 has been considered “normal.” More recent advice calls for slightly lower readings. “The blood pressure that’s right for you is based upon many factors. And, conditions such as cold weather can temporarily affect your blood pressure,” Dr. Dawson added.

The best prevention for high blood pressure is knowing your numbers and making lifestyle changes that matter, such as eating a well-balanced diet low in sale, limiting alcohol, regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, quit smoking, taking your medications as prescribed and working with your healthcare provider.

Medications can also help keep your blood pressure in check.

Taking your blood pressure

You can take your blood pressure regularly at home, using an automatic blood pressure cuff, easily purchased from online retailers or many big box stores. To obtain the most accurate readings, be sure to buy a cuff that goes around your upper arm.

In advance of taking the reading, avoid caffeine and alcohol for at least a half hour, and sit calmly for five minutes.

Seat yourself comfortably in a chair, with your back supported, feet on the floor and legs uncrossed. Your arm should be supported at about the level of your heart

Taking a pair of blood pressure readings – a few minutes apart – and averaging them is recommended. If the two readings are significantly different, try a third reading and average the three.

A reading of over 130/80 or higher means you are more likely to have a heart attack or stroke.

Numbers: good or bad?

The American Heart Association has a handy chart to help you know how high is too high when it comes to your blood pressure.

Baptist Health Hardin’s highly skilled cardiologists offer a progressive approach to heart care that includes prevention, personalized diagnosis, and treatment protocols. Baptist Health Hardin has earned the American College of Cardiology’s accreditation for Chest Pain Center with PCI and was one of only 85 hospitals nationwide to be awarded the NCDR Chest Pain – MI Registry Silver Performance Achievement Award in 2022.

For more information on heart care, visit BaptistHealth.com/Hardin.