The silent killer: High blood pressure

By Ashley Follett

Nearly half of adults in the United States have high blood pressure and many don’t know they have it.

High blood pressure, also called hypertension is a common and dangerous condition. It is called the “silent killer” because high blood pressure often has no warning signs or symptoms. This common condition increases the risk for heart disease and stroke, but steps can be taken to control your blood pressure and lower your risk.

Sponsored by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and recognized by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month to raise awareness about the impact of hypertension. According to the CDC, nearly half of adults in the United States have hypertension. Only about one in four adults with hypertension have their condition under control.

According to the 2020 U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 70% of adults 65 years old and older have hypertension.

By making healthy lifestyle choices, aging adults can help keep their blood pressure in a healthy range. A healthy lifestyle includes:

• Eating a healthy diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
• Limiting your salt intake, no more than 1,500 milligrams per day
• Maintaining a healthy weight
• Getting enough physical activity, involving at least 150 minutes per week, if possible
• Not smoking

These lifestyle changes for blood pressure control are similar to those for managing and preventing other chronic diseases such as diabetes.

The best way to know whether you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure checked by a health professional. Measuring blood pressure is quick and painless. Free blood pressure clinics are provided by Johnson County Department of Health and Environment registered nurses at locations throughout Johnson County, including (locations and times are subject to change):

• First Monday of the month, 9-10:30 a.m. Johnson County Administration Building, 111 S. Cherry St., Olathe
• First Tuesday of the month, 10-11 a.m. Olathe Towers Apartments, 1425 E. College Way
• First Friday of the month, 10:30-11:30 a.m. Merriam Community Center, 6040 Slater St.
• Second Wednesday of the month, 1-2 p.m. Overland Towers Apartments, 8580 Farley St., Overland Park
• Third Monday of each month, 10:30-11:45 a.m. Matt Ross Community Center, 8101 Marty St., Overland Park
• Third Tuesday of each month, 10:30-11:30 a.m. Lenexa Senior Center, 13425 Walnut St.
• Third Wednesday of each month, 1-2 p.m. Poplar Court Apartments, 519 E. Poplar St., Olathe
• Fourth Wednesday of each month, 1-2 p.m. Sunflower Apartments, 10200 W. 62nd St., Shawnee

More information is available by calling 913-826-1228 or visiting the department’s webpage at jocogov.org/department/health/walk-healthservices/blood-pressure-clinics.

Ashley Follett is community information coordinator at the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment.

A red yellow and green table of information showing blood pressure ranges.