Men, do you know what your blood pressure is?

According to the CDC, men in the United States die on average five years earlier than women, and men die at higher rates from the three leading causes of death (heart disease, cancer and unintentional injuries). June is Men’s Health Month, and it’s a perfect moment for men to take control of their health and wellness.

Hypertension affects more than 100 million adults in the United States, and it affects more men than women. “Hypertension is a huge issue, especially in our region,” said Heather Franci, Assistant Chief Nursing Officer at Penn Highlands DuBois. “It is a particularly serious issue for men, but the good news is that there are many steps you can take to reduce high blood pressure.”

What is hypertension?

Hypertension, another name for high blood pressure, is when the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your blood vessels is consistently high. When you have high blood pressure, it increases the workload of your heart and blood vessels. Over time, the increased pressure damages the tissues in the arteries, and LDL cholesterol (the bad type of cholesterol) forms in the small tears in the artery walls. As cholesterol builds up, the arteries become narrower, further raising your blood pressure and ultimately leading to conditions like arrhythmia, heart attack and stroke.

What are the symptoms of hypertension?

Hypertension is called the silent killer because many people won’t experience any symptoms at all. It may take years or decades for it to become severe enough that symptoms appear.

Since most people don’t experience symptoms, how do I know if I have hypertension?

The best way to know if you have high blood pressure is to get regular blood pressure readings and to talk to your primary care provider about your family history and risk factors. Fortunately, with regular check-ups, hypertension is usually easy to diagnose.

How can I reduce my risk for hypertension?

You can reduce your risk factors by making healthy lifestyle changes, including:

  • eating a healthy diet that emphasizes fruit, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins;
  • increasing physical activity and reaching a healthy weight;
  • managing stress through meditation, deep breathing, massage, muscle relaxation or another stress management activity;
  • reducing tobacco and alcohol use;
  • getting enough sleep.

Men’s Health Month is a great time to schedule a check-up with your primary care provider to discuss your risk for hypertension and the steps you can take to lower your blood pressure.

Penn Highlands Healthcare cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, and heart health experts treat all kinds of heart problems from chronic conditions, such as hypertension and congestive heart failure, to emergency conditions, such as heart attacks. To learn more about the cardiology services at Penn Highlands Healthcare, please visit