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I love May, when the weather warms and the blooms and green trees and grass make it feel like a new start. It's time to roll up your sleeves—not only because you can get out and begin gardening (if you live in the Northeast, like me), but also for another reason: for the good of your health.
May 5 is officially the National Day of Action: Roll Up Your Sleeves! It's part of the Measure Up/Pressure Down (MUPD), a campaign launched in 2012 by the American Medical Group Association (AMGA) and the American Medical Group Foundation (AMGF) to improve high blood pressure awareness, detection and control.
May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month, and May 5 is the day the MUPD campaign designated to encourage everyone to take action to learn about the importance of blood pressure management.
High blood pressure affects nearly one in three adults and has huge health implications. Because it often has no symptoms, it's sometimes called "the silent killer." Nearly 20 percent of people with high blood pressure don't even know they have it, which is why awareness is so very important.
These are just a few of the many ways uncontrolled high blood pressure can affect your body:
- damage to your heart and coronary arteries
- kidney damage
- heart attack
- heart disease
- heart failure
- erectile dysfunction
- memory loss
- vision loss
- fluid in the lungs
Successful blood pressure control requires a combination of awareness, lifestyle changes and proper use of medications.
Some easy things you can do to keep it under control include losing extra pounds, limiting sodium in your diet, exercising regularly, limiting the amount of alcohol you drink, cutting back on caffeine and reducing stress.
The AMGA/AMGF mission is to improve health and health care. One of the many ways they're doing this is with this program. Their goal is to have 80 percent of patients with high blood pressure attain control of their blood pressure.
In the first two years of the program, they've gotten their message across to over 140 million Americans with the help of 210 participants, including HealthyWomen, along with medical groups, health systems, community organizations, corporate offices and employees. Some of the participating medical groups and health systems include Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, Kaiser Permanente and Geisinger Health System.
How can you help?
Here's a checklist from the MUPD campaign with lots of ways organizations can help bring awareness to this important health condition.
As an individual, roll up your sleeves and get your blood pressure measured. If you have high blood pressure, talk to your health care provider about how you can get control of the disease.
And encourage all your friends to roll up their sleeves and have their blood pressure measured. Aside from the office of your health care professional, you can check your blood pressure at many pharmacies or using a reliable monitor at home.
And remember: Testing should be done when you're calm. You also should not exercise close to testing and don't consume caffeine or smoke within 30 minutes of checking your blood pressure. You should not talk or eat during the check, and make sure to sit with your back supported and both feet flat on the floor. Stress, cold temperatures and certain medications may temporarily affect your blood pressure reading.
To learn more on high blood pressure from MUPD, click here.