If you’ve ever been to a doctor’s office, it’s safe to say that you’ve had your blood pressure taken. You may not have understood what the numbers meant, or even asked what the numbers were, but I’m certain you knew that those numbers were significant to your overall health and wellbeing.
As the daughter of two hypertensive (high blood pressure) parents, with countless relatives who are also hypertensive and/or have cardiovascular issues, I am at an increased risk for developing high blood pressure. I have managed to maintain a healthy blood pressure, but it’s not without effort. Since the only jeans I control are the ones I purchase in the store, I am very diligent about making sure that I know my numbers. Not only do I participate in annual screenings, I also check my blood pressure at various points throughout the year.
- Because one screening is never enough to make a determination. I have to pay attention to what my numbers look like over time.
- Because blood pressure fluctuates on a regular basis. It’s dependent upon what I’m doing at the time, where I am, and how it’s being assessed.
- Because my blood pressure can be elevated without my knowing it. No symptom is the most common symptom hence the nickname, “silent killer”.
- Because heart disease is the leading cause of death in women.
- Because hypertension rates are disproportionately higher in people of color.
- Because even though I don’t cook with salt, it’s a staple ingredient in most pre-packaged foods.
- Because just a few extra pounds can make a difference.
- Because stress is inevitable no matter how much I try to avoid it.
You might think there’s no need to see a doctor unless you are sick. You might believe that “feeling fine” is the same as being fine. You may choose to disregard your health because “ignorance is bliss”. Survey says, “WRONG!” When you take care of your body, it does its best to return the favor. This is why having baseline information is so important. You have to know your family history, your social risk factors (i.e. smoking), and you have to know your numbers. A simple blood pressure check can mean the difference between quality and quantity of life. Proverbs 4:23 says it best, “above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it”.
If you are a family physician, or a cardiologist interested in helping black women and girls get a jump start to a healthy heart, consider becoming a BGH partner: https://blackgirlhealth.com/partnerships/