Your health

News from Lynda Zimmerman, MU Extension Nutrition Specialist

Take control of your hypertension

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) urges Americans, "If your blood pressure is not lower than 140/90, ask your doctor,`Why?'" 

Who is affected?

High blood pressure affects about 50 million, or one in four, American adults. Of those with hypertension, about 68 percent are aware of their condition -- but only 27 percent have it under control. Reasons for this include not taking drugs as prescribed and/or not taking a medication that sufficiently lowers blood pressure.

Hypertension can lead to stroke, heart failure, or kidney damage. To help prevent that, blood pressure must be lowered to less than 140/90 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury).

What is normal?

Normal blood pressure is less than 130/85 mm Hg. "We advise Americans to talk about their blood pressure with their doctor," said NHLBI Director, Dr. Claude Lenfant. "They should have their blood pressure checked and, if it's high, ask about adjusting their medication and whether they've made the necessary lifestyle changes to bring it to below 140/90."

Can it be controlled?

The lifestyle changes to control high blood pressure are:

  • Losing weight (if overweight)
  • Becoming physically active
  • Choosing foods lower in salt and sodium
  • Limiting alcohol intake.

Where can I find out more?

To help spread the word about the dangers of uncontrolled hypertension, and what can be done about it, the NHLBI and the National High Blood Pressure Education Program (NHBPEP) have set up a special website, Your Guide to Lowering High Blood Pressure.

The website also offers a variety of materials to help Americans learn more about hypertension:

  • Facts About the DASH Diet* - Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension is an eating plan rich in fruits, vegetables, and lowfat dairy foods and lower in saturated fat, total fat, and cholesterol. It has been shown to reduce high blood pressure. The fact sheet gives an overview of the plan and a week of DASH menus.
  • Healthy Recipes* - Heart healthy recipes from the NHLBI, Stay Young At Heart Program, as well as special Latino and African American recipe books.
  • Issues for Women
  • Facts About How to Prevent High Blood Pressure*
  • Special booklets series -  for African-Americans and Latinos on how to prevent and control cardiovascular risk factors. The Latino series is in Spanish and English.

Materials can be ordered from:

NHLBI Information Center 
P.O. Box 30105
Bethesda, MD 20824-0105. 

* Single printed copies are free free of charge; others have a small charge. Recorded messages about high blood pressure prevention and control are available by calling, 1-800-575-WELL.  The NHLBI is part of the National Institutes of Health.

Other Resources

American Heart Association website