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Importance Of Monitoring Blood Pressure

February 2, 2010, 6:12 PM by Kelli Grant

Importance Of Monitoring Blood Pressure
It's a silent killer, affecting nearly 75 million people across the country. There aren't any symptoms for hypertension, also known as high blood pressure.  The only way to know if your numbers are too high is to get it checked. It's advice one KELOLAND woman wishes she would have followed.

Sixty-two-year-old Paulene Harkness didn't always eat like this: a slice of a ham, a lettuce salad, some peaches. Her routine of eating fried fatty foods changed eight years ago. 

"Thought that, 'Oh, it will never happen to me!' And yeah, it will," Harkness said. 

She knew she had a family history of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure, but...

"I was the one that was going to beat the odds and avoid all of that unpleasantness," Harkness said.

Unfortunately, that didn't happen. In 2002, Harkness suffered her first heart attack. A year later, another one sent her in for a triple bypass. All because of extremely high blood pressure.

"I wish I would have monitored my blood pressure levels a little more closely and monitored my general health a little better," Harkness said.

It's what she preaches to her four kids because, like her, they all have high blood pressure.

Blood pressure is typically recorded as two numbers. The top number, which is also the higher of the two, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats. The bottom number, which should be the lower of the two, measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats. It should normally be less than 120 over 80 for an adult age 20 or over.

This month, Lewis Drug, local physicians, Sanford and Avera Hospitals, even clergy nurses are promoting hypertension awareness, asking all doctors to help patients take control of the problem and adopt healthy new habits like Harkness.

"Something as simple as going for a walk. Go to the mall, walk the mall for a half hour," Harkness said.

Because exercising, eating healthy and even blood pressure medications can save a life.

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