When was the last time you stopped by a pharmacy kiosk and checked your blood pressure? With 15 million Canadians at risk of living with high blood pressure or hypertension, advocates say there’s good reason to stop and take a seat.
May 17 is World Hypertension Day, marked to spread awareness about the serious risks high blood pressure can have on a person’s health. This year, Hypertension Canada is hoping to spread the word on the importance of regular pressure checks.
Roughly 7.2 million people in the country suffer from hypertension, according to the organization, which means their blood pressure is above 140/90 mmHg, compared to the healthy average of 120/80 or below.
Similar to pumping too much air into a tire or balloon, when there is too much pressure in a person’s blood vessels, the force can be deadly and cause gradual damage to the brain, eyes, heart, and kidneys.
Hypertension Canada CEO Angelique Berg said in a news release Friday it’s not common to actually feel high blood pressure, contrary to popular belief.
“The only way to know, and relieve its damaging force, is to measure it and measure it accurately,” she said.
When untreated, high blood pressure will advance to hypertension, which causes diseases including heart failure, stroke, kidney disease and is also linked to dementia.
Berg said the first step is stopping by a kiosk, often located at or near pharmacies.
“Knowing your numbers is critical to detecting high blood pressure so you can take steps to relieve it,” said Berg, “and managing your blood pressure can help us to live longer and healthier.”
She added that small changes such as being physically active, eating a low-sodium diet and limiting alcohol use can help get high blood pressure under control.