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Control Your Blood Pressure, Control Your Life

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“Okay, now,” the nurse said to my seven year-old daughter, “I’m going to put this little cuff around your arm and it’s going to give you a big squeeze.”

My daughter squealed as the cuff slowly tightened around her tiny arm. “I love this, Mom! It feels like a big snuggly hug!”

My daughter loves having her blood pressure checked. It’s fun and novel. But she has no idea how important that cuff is to her health, and the health of every person on the planet.

I had no idea myself, really, until I began learning about World Health Day this year, the theme of which is high blood pressure.

I was pretty shocked to learn what a critical condition this is to diagnose and treat.

It’s sort of a gateway condition, if you will: untreated high blood pressure can lead to other serious health complications such as heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure. 9 million people worldwide die every year from high blood pressure-related complications.

With 1 in 3 adults suffering from this condition, chances are that you, or someone you know, is affected by this condition that they call “the silent killer.”

Why? Because most people who have high blood pressure will show no symptoms of the condition, and many people around the globe go undiagnosed.

But adults aren’t the only ones who can fall prey to high blood pressure. A Huffington Post article from last year talked about how the condition is on the rise in children, too. Reading the article made me stop taking those annual kid well checks at the pediatrician for granted: they’re an important part of preventive health.

My kids won’t have it easy as they age: there’s a history of high blood pressure in both sides of our family. There are lots of ways that they can help minimize their risk for high blood pressure: things like a healthy diet, exercise, avoiding tobacco, limiting the use of alcohol and managing stress can all play a part.

Johnson & Johnson employee Michael DeLucia learned this firsthand. As he told us:

“Being overweight and having a high BMI puts you at risk for high blood pressure and associated complication. My blood pressure initially was borderline high. Following my daily rituals of exercise and portion control my blood pressure was consistently within the normal range even after the first 10% loss of body weight.”

Michael joined a company wellness and prevention program that helped him manage his weight, improve his health and reduce his risk for high blood pressure. You can watch Michael’s story here:

So, how do you stay on top of your blood pressure?
There are lots of ways. Regular blood pressure checks are an important first step. Education helps, too. It’s critical to understand both the risk factors of high blood pressure, as well as some of the myths surrounding this condition.

But high blood pressure is just one marker of your overall health. Johnson & Johnson recently launched a very cool Windows 8 app called Digital Health Scorecard. It’s like getting a credit score for your health!

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This app asks you a few short questions, then gives you a snapshot of your overall health, as well as tips and resources for improving the areas where you might be at risk. You can get the Digital Health Scorecard app for free at the Windows 8 Store.

Do you have family who suffers from high blood pressure? What steps are you taking to manage your risk?

Here’s to a healthy heart. Happy World Health Day!

Gigi Ross is a wife mom of two kids (a 10 year-old boy and an 8 year-old girl) living in San Diego, CA. Gigi works as a content and community manager for Johnson & Johnson. A blogger and writer in her spare time, Gigi’s work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Babble, BlogHer and Mamapedia. She keeps her personal blog at KludgyMom.

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