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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Cell 302-357-7498
Email: jill.fredel@delaware.gov

Date: March 24, 2016


DOVER, DE (March 23, 2016) - More than a quarter of adult Delawareans report having high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for one of the nation's biggest silent killers, heart disease. According to the 2013 Behavioral Risk Factor Survey, 256,755 (35.6 percent) Delawareans over the age 18 reported having high blood pressure. This means that the pressure to which your arteries pump blood from your heart to the rest of your organs is continuously elevated (systolic pressure over 140 and diastolic pressure over 90). When the blood pressure is higher and/or abnormal it places stress on the heart and can cause complications and even premature death.

Smoking, eating an unhealthy diet, and not getting enough exercise all increase your risk for having heart disease. That's why Delaware's Division of Public Health (DPH) along with organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Million Hearts -a national effort to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes in the United States by 2017, are encouraging Americans to know their blood pressure, and if it's high, to make control their goal.

Individuals with high blood pressure often show no signs that it is elevated, which is why having it checked regularly is important. It's also easy. You can get screened at your doctor's office, drugstores, or even check it yourself at home, using a home blood pressure monitor.

"There are many things that Delawareans can do to reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke," said Dr. Karyl Rattay, DPH Director. "One of the most important things we can do is to not start smoking or, if you already smoke, to quit. It's also important, particularly for young children, to avoid secondhand smoke. For all of us, it is important to live a physically active life."

Many of the risk factors for heart disease are preventable and controllable. Controlling these risks could reduce your risk for heart attack or stroke by more than 80 percent, according to the Million Hearts website. To reduce your risk for heart disease and bring your blood pressure under control:

Older adults are advised to make it a point to know their numbers as the risk for developing high blood pressure increases greatly as we age. Nearly 65 percent (166,634) of Delawareans that report having hypertension are age 65 or older.

Regardless of age, it helps to be aware of the impact of medications and other medical conditions on your blood pressure. Certain medications may raise your blood pressure so talk to your doctor about this risk prior to taking them. If you are taking a prescription to control your high blood pressure, make sure you take it as the doctor prescribed it. Certain health conditions such as overweight and obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, Cushing's syndrome, sleep apnea and kidney disease can increase your risk for high blood pressure. Talk to your medical provider about how to manage these risks.

Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to heart attack and/or failure, chronic kidney disease, aneurysms, memory loss, eye damage, problems with your legs and possibly stroke. If you notice someone whose face is drooping or they are complaining about it being numb, their arm being weak and/or if the person is slurring their speech or you can't understand them, they may be having a stroke. Call 9-1-1 immediately. A quick response may save their life.

For more information on high blood pressure contact the DPH Diabetes and Heart Disease Prevention and Control Program at 302-744-1020 or Million Hearts Delaware website at millionheartsde.com .

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages. A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person's spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit http://delawarerelay.com.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.