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Health Beat: What's your blood pressure IQ?

Published On: Jun 20 2013 10:26:57 AM CDT
Updated On: Jun 20 2013 04:33:58 PM CDT

About one in three Americans has high blood pressure, and nearly one in three doesn't know it.

PLANO, Texas -

About one in three Americans has high blood pressure, and nearly one in three doesn't know it. There's a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to this common condition.

It can sneak up on you or can become a life-long problem. High blood pressure comes in many forms.

"There are a billion people in the world that have hypertension high blood pressure," said Dr. David L. Brown, director of interventional cardiology and co-director of CV research at The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano in Plano, Texas.

But how much do you know about this common problem?

Fact or fiction: You need to monitor both arms when measuring blood pressure.

Fact: A British study found differences in blood pressure between left and right arms could increase the risk of death.

Fact or fiction: Leaving the table salt on the table lowers your risk.

Fiction: Not necessarily. Up to 75 percent of the sodium you consume is hidden in processed foods, so check your labels, too.

Fact or fiction: A small increase in blood pressure isn’t a big deal.

Fiction: "For every 10 millimeters of blood pressure increase, you have the doubling of heart attacks, the doubling of strokes," Brown said.

Fact or fiction: Do men and women have an equal risk for high blood pressure?

Fact: While men tend to develop the condition at a younger age, women catch up after menopause.

Fact or fiction: Only medication can lower blood pressure.

Fiction: Lifestyle makes a difference. The Dash Diet can reduce blood pressure in just 14 days; and by 8 to 14 points over time.

Fact or Fiction: Are warning signs really hard to spot?

Fact: Besides a rare headache, high blood pressure usually has no signs or symptoms.

The American Heart Association recommends limiting daily sodium intake to no more than 1,500 milligrams. When you consume too much sodium, your body holds extra water to "wash" the salt from your body. This can cause blood pressure to rise. The added water puts stress on your heart and blood vessels.

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