What are your numbers?


Tracy Cook, NP-C

February is Heart Health Awareness Month and Living Well Committee here at Robson Ranch sponsors a monthly blood pressure check the first Thursday of each month. High blood pressure can affect anyone.

What causes high blood pressure? Your genes, your weight, your physical activity or the stress in your life. When blood pressure is too high it can cause strokes, kidney damage and heart attacks.

What are the symptoms? You could have a headache, chest pain, fatigue, feel hot or dizzy. Sometimes there are no symptoms, even when your blood pressure is really high. That is why knowing your numbers is so important.

What numbers do you need to know? Medically speaking, normal blood pressure is systolic (top number) less than 120 and diastolic (bottom number) less than 80.

What numbers should you be concerned about? Systolic greater than 160 or diastolic less than 100 should make you take notice and talk with your health care professional. Systolic greater than 180 or diastolic higher than 110 is a medical emergency and you should seek treatment immediately.

What can you do about high blood pressure? If medication is prescribed by your health care professional, then make sure you take it as prescribed. Check your blood pressure on a regular basis and keep a record to show your health care professional. Increase your activity level. Walking is the safest form of exercise and can make a tremendous impact on lowering your blood pressure. Stress relief is another way to lower your blood pressure.

What makes you feel relaxed? A hot bath, gardening, reading, meditating and even exercising can relax you. Diet is another factor. Eat healthy, natural whole foods. Keep your weight under control and you can be on your way to having a normal blood pressure.

What type of blood pressure monitor is best? There are many different types of monitoring from manual to automatic cuffs, arm or wrist monitors. A manual blood pressure will always be the most accurate but not always practical at home. Arm monitors are generally more reliable than wrist monitors because of user error. The most important thing you can do no matter the type of monitor you get, is to have your monitor checked for reliability as compared to a manual reading. Have your health care professional take a manual reading and then have the automatic cuff take a reading and compare.

Robson Ranch has many ways to help you keep your blood pressure under control. Take advantage of the fitness center, walking trails, monthly Living Well Walk-Abouts, monthly Living Well Blood Pressure monitoring and the weekly Farmer’s Market.

Get involved in your health, get moving in the right direction and know your numbers. Ask your health care professional if you need help getting started.

Tracy Cook is an Adult Nurse Practitioner who owns and operates her private medical practice: Adult Health Services, is a resident of Robson Ranch and a Living Well committee member. For any questions or more information please visit her website at www.adulthealthservices.com.