According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year – that’s one in every four deaths. That’s why, during American Heart Month, Mercy Health would like to encourage you to care for yourself and your loved ones by reminding you of the importance of regular health screenings.
Heart disease affects different populations in different ways. For example, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, both Hispanic-American adults and Asian-American adults are less likely to have heart disease than non-Hispanic White adults. African-American adults are more likely to have high blood pressure and more likely to die from heart disease than non-Hispanic whites.
For people of all ethnicities, knowing and properly managing your biometric numbers such as your weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, can prevent or delay heart disease and its complications.
Of special interest regarding blood pressure numbers, the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA) have revised the guidelines for the detection, prevention, management and treatment of high blood pressure. The new guidelines – the first comprehensive set since 2003 – lower the definition of high blood pressure to account for complications that can occur at lower numbers and to allow for earlier intervention. Blood pressure categories in the new guideline are:
- Normal: Less than 120/80 mm Hg
- Elevated: Systolic between 120-129 and diastolic less than 80
- Stage 1: Systolic between 130-139 or diastolic between 80-89
- Stage 2: Systolic at least 140 or diastolic at least 90 mm Hg
- Hypertensive crisis: Systolic over 180 and/or diastolic over 120, with patients needing prompt changes in medication if there are no other indications of problems, or immediate hospitalization if there are signs of organ damage
The best way to find out if your numbers are within a healthy range for your gender, height and age is to have annual health screenings.
Additionally, having a primary care physician (PCP) who can coordinate your care is vital to your good health.
A PCP typically specializes in family medicine, internal medicine or general practice. If you don’t have a PCP, finding one is easy. Just visit your insurance carrier’s website, look for the “find a doctor” area and follow the instructions.
If you have any changes in your health and you’ve got questions, call the nurse line offered by your medical plan.
Mercy Health is committed to helping you live a healthy life by nurturing well-being through body, mind and spirit.