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Is your heart healthy?

Special Advertorial Health Section - Mattapan Community Health Center provides blood pressure screening to all patients

By Tarma Johnson FNP, BC & Dr. Ramon Cancino, MD, MSc Mattapan Community Health Center | 6/8/2016, 12:21 p.m.

High blood pressure (or hypertension) affects one in three adults in the United States. This is dangerous because hypertension can increase risk of heart disease and/or stroke. Hypertension often presents with no signs or symptoms — many people do not know they have it.

Mattapan Community Health Center (MCHC) provides blood pressure screening to all patients. In addition, MCHC’s team is knowledgeable staff and providers know the most current guidelines about preventing and treating hypertension. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps blood. Health care staff checks blood pressure readings the same way for children, teens, and adults. Equipment used to check your blood pressure includes a gauge, stethoscope or electronic sensor, and a blood pressure cuff. The two measurements taken are: Systolic Pressure which measures when the heart beats while pumping blood and the Diastolic Pressure is when the heart is at rest between beats. The measure is written as 120/80 which reads 120 over 80 millimeters of mercury. This is defined as a normal blood pressure although normal blood pressures vary according to age and body size. New born babies often have very low blood pressure readings; teens have similar numbers to adults.

The following increase your risk of having hypertension:

  • Diabetes
  • Unhealthy diet, such as including eating too much salt
  • Not exercising enough
  • Being overweight
  • Too much alcohol
  • Smoking cigarettes

Heart disease and high blood pressure can be prevented. In fact, research shows that 80 percent of cardiac events may be prevented if we make the right choices for our hearts, involving diet, exercise and abstinence from smoking.

Exercise

One of the best ways to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease is to start getting regular, moderate exercise, at least 30 minutes a day, most days of the week. By adding one hour of regular, vigorous physical activity, adults may gain up to two hours of life expectancy. Start thinking about your heart by including more physical activity into your daily routine. Take a walk, ride a bike or take the stairs.

Know your numbers

During a heart checkup, your doctor takes a careful look at your “numbers,” including your cholesterol and triglyceride levels, your blood pressure and more. Knowing your numbers is an important part of keeping your heart-healthy. It can help you and your doctor know your risks and mark the progress you are making toward a healthier you.

Stop or don’t start smoking

Smoking is the single most preventable cause of death in the United States. If you smoke cigarettes (or cigars), you have a higher risk of illness and death from heart attack, stroke and other diseases. So if you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, love your heart and quit today.

Know your family health history

Uncovering family history can help you to better understand your risk for heart disease. If you have a blood relative with heart disease or a risk factor for genetic heart disease, your risk for developing it significantly increases for a heart attack, and it’s the single greatest cause of preventable death in the United States.