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Matters of the heart

Learn about blood pressure, hypertension

Measuring your blood pressure regularly is the only way to know if you have hypertension.

In recognition of American Heart Month, the USPS Health and Wellness team is encouraging employees to check their blood pressure levels regularly.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is blood pressure that is higher than normal levels.

Blood pressure changes throughout the day based on activity, so having hypertension means that your blood pressure is consistently above normal. The higher your blood pressure, the greater your risk for health problems, such as heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

Risk factors for high blood pressure include prolonged stress and unhealthy lifestyles.

Some risk factors cannot be controlled, like age and family history. However, you can take steps to reduce your risk by changing the factors you can control, such as eating healthier, exercising more, reducing stress, drinking less alcohol and not smoking.

Blood pressure is measured using two numbers. A normal blood pressure level is less than 120 systolic and 80 diastolic (120/80 mmHg).

Measuring your blood pressure regularly is the only way to know if you have high blood pressure because there usually are no signs or symptoms. Health care providers can diagnose high blood pressure and provide treatments, such as medication and lifestyle changes.

The Centers for Diesease Control and Prevention’s website and the Wellness LiteBlue page have more information on hypertension.