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from the Dallas County MU Extension

(Buffalo) – About 1 in 3 adults have hypertension (high blood pressure) in the United States according to Christeena Haynes, a nutrition and health education specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

“High blood pressure increases your risk of heart attack and stroke, which are two of the leading causes of death in the U.S.,” said Haynes.

High blood pressure is known as the “silent killer,” because many times people do not even know they have it. For this reason, Haynes says it is important to have your blood pressure checked regularly.

Blood pressure is written as a ratio. The top (systolic) number shows the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats. The bottom (diastolic) number is the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart rests.

Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80 mm Hg; prehypertension is 120-139/80-89 mm Hg; and high is 140/90 mm Hg or higher.

“The good news about hypertension is that it is usually preventable,” said Haynes, who offers these tips to maintain a normal blood pressure.

Eat a healthy diet. Increase fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Consume lean protein and fish. Choose fat-free or low-fat dairy.

Limit sodium. Reduce daily intake to less than 2,300 mg/day or less than 1,500 mg/day for those 51 years and older, those of any age who are African American or have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease.

Maintain a healthy body weight.

Exercise regularly. Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week. Start where you can and increase slowly.

Stop smoking. Smoking damages blood vessels and accelerates hardening of the arteries.

Limit alcohol intake. If you drink, consume only moderate amounts (one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men). Too much alcohol increases blood pressure.

For more information on nutrition contact one of the following nutrition specialists: Christeena Haynes, in Dallas County, (417) 345-7551; Dr. Lydia Kaume in Barton County, (417) 682-3579; Dr. Pam Duitsman, in Greene County, (417) 881-8909; or Cammie Younger in Texas County, (417) 967-4545. Information is also available online http://extension.missouri.edu.

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