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FOR RELEASE: May 12 , 2006
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Health Officials Stress Prevention and Control of High Blood Pressure
May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month

High blood pressure is a dangerous condition. You usually don't have any symptoms, so you may not even know you have it. According to public health officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Health, it can lead to heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease, which are the first, third, and ninth leading causes of death in Oklahoma and the U.S. Oklahoma has one of the highest high blood pressure prevalence rates (29.8 percent) in the U.S., or about one million adult Oklahomans.

"Mission Possible: Prevent and Control High Blood Pressure" is the theme for this year’s National High Blood Pressure Education Month campaign. As part of prevention and control efforts, first take action to find out what your blood pressure numbers are, what they mean, and what you need to do to prevent or control it. High blood pressure can be prevented and controlled by making some of the following lifestyle changes:

  • Lose weight, if necessary, and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Be physically active.
  • Follow a healthy eating plan.
  • Eat less salt and sodium.
  • Limit your alcohol consumption.
  • Be consistent in taking prescribed medications to control your high blood pressure.

One step that you can get started on right away is to gradually start eating more healthfully. Research has shown that a healthy eating plan called DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) can reduce your chances of developing high blood pressure and lower your blood pressure if it is already high.

The DASH eating plan emphasizes fresh fruits and vegetables and low fat dairy products. It is moderate in total fat and low in saturated fat and cholesterol. It also includes whole grains, poultry, fish, and nuts. Plus, if you also reduce your salt and sodium intake, it works even better.

Starting on the DASH eating plan is fairly easy. It requires no special foods and has no hard-to-follow recipes. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Make gradual changes like adding a serving of fruit or vegetables at lunch and dinner.
  • Gradually increase your use of fat free and low fat dairy products to three servings a day.
  • Gradually cut in half the amount of butter, margarine, or salad dressing you eat.
  • If you now eat large portions of meat, cut them back by a half or third at each meal.
  • Try two or more vegetarian-style (meatless) meals each week.
  • Try casseroles and pasta and stir-fry dishes, which have less meat and more vegetables, grains, and dry beans.
  • Try fresh or dried fruits, raw vegetables, or low fat and fat free yogurt for snacks.

Earlier this month, the National Institutes of Health released the results of an eight-year trial that compared blood pressure medications. The results of the trial showed that diuretic medications, a less costly drug, are more effective than other high blood pressure medications in preventing heart failure. High blood pressure is the leading risk factor for heart failure, a condition where the heart is weakened and does not effectively pump blood throughout the body. Oklahoma has one of the highest heart failure death rates in the nation.

For more information about high blood pressure, contact your local county health department or the Chronic Disease Service of the Oklahoma State Department of Health at 405/271-4072.

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