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High blood pressure: Must-know facts

There's a good reason most health care provider visits start with a blood pressure check. Nearly half of all American adults have high blood pressure, also called hypertension. Only about one in four adults have controlled hypertension.

It is important to learn about high blood pressure and healthy habits to help prevent it.

1. Untreated high blood pressure is dangerous. It increases your risk for heart attack, stroke, kidney disease and vision loss.

2. Normal blood pressure is below 120/80. High blood pressure begins at anything above 130/80.

3. Family history and race are risk factors. If your parents or a close blood-relative had high blood pressure, you're more likely to get it. High blood pressure is more common in non-Hispanic black adults than in any other race.

4. Your lifestyle choices matter. Healthy habits can help prevent high blood pressure and can bring it down when it's high. Healthy lifestyle habits include:

  • Following a healthy eating plan and limiting salty foods.
  • Regular physical activity and exercise.
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight.
  • Quitting smoking.
  • Reducing stress.

5. Talk to your doctor. If you think you may have high blood pressure, make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. For more information, contact Gold Coast Health Plan's (GCHP) Member Services Department at 1-888-301-1228. If you use a TTY, call 1-800-310-7347.

The Ventura County Area Agency on Aging has classes about healthy eating. For more information visit vcaaa.org or call 1-805-477-7339. To learn more about staying healthy and active, visit healthyventuracounty.org.

Sources: American Heart Association; National Institutes of HealthCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

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