May is National High Blood Pressure Education and American Stroke Awareness Month

May is National High Blood Pressure Education and American Stroke Awareness Month

Stroke is a leading cause of death and severe, long-term disability and high blood pressure plays a major role.  High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is called the silent killer because it usually doesn’t have symptoms.  Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the blood vessels as the heart pumps blood.  You can have high blood pressure and not even know it.  About 1 of 3 U.S. adults have high blood pressure.  High blood pressure can cause damage to arteries throughout the body and weakened arteries in the brain can put you at a higher risk for a stroke. High blood pressure is one of the major risk factors for stroke.  Uncontrolled high blood pressure increases a person’s stroke risk by four to six times.


Up to 50 per cent of strokes can be prevented.  Uncontrollable risk factors include age, gender, race and family history. Some controllable risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking & obesity.  Managing stress is very important.


The following healthy habits help keep blood pressure under control:

  • Have blood pressure checked regularly
  • Exercise 30 minutes each day
  • Achieve and maintain a healthy body weight
  • Use less sodium – even ketchup and ice cream have sodium, read the labels and buy accordingly
  • Eat a healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grains and poultry and fish
  • Quit smoking
  • Limit alcohol to 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men
  • Tell your doctor about all medications including over-the-counter and pain relievers; take prescribed medications


Stroke is the number one cause of serious adult disability in the United States.  Stroke can affect memory, language, vision and can also cause paralysis and other health issues. As a result of a stroke a person may have problems with even the simplest of daily activities. For most stroke patients, physical therapy is the primary step in the rehabilitation process.


Two-thirds of all strokes occur in people over the age of 65.  Seniors need to be aware of and reduce their risk factors.  And, it is critical to have their blood pressure checked regularly.