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May 13, 2009 > Ladies: How Blood Pressure Affects You

Ladies: How Blood Pressure Affects You

Free Screening and Lecture Provides Practical Tips for Lowering Blood Pressure

Blood pressure. We get it checked almost every time we visit the doctor, so it must be important, right? But oftentimes, we tend to ignore those two numbers, which represent the pressure circulating blood exerts on the walls of our arteries.

Blood pressure is, after all, easy to ignore with no symptoms telling us when it's too high. It's just those two numbers, which represent systolic and diastolic pressure, that can indicate a problem before it becomes a health crisis.

During National High Blood Pressure Education Month, the Washington Women's Center hopes to inspire women to learn about how high blood pressure, called hypertension, affects them - as well as ways to achieve a more optimal blood pressure reading.

On Thursday, May 14, the Women's Center will hold a free Lunch and Learn lecture and screening focused on blood pressure. The screening will be held from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. with a lecture from 12 to 1 p.m. (An afternoon encore session will be held from 1 to 2 p.m. with a lecture from 2 to 3 p.m.) Both the screening and lecture will take place at the Washington Women's Center located at 2500 Mowry Avenue in Fremont.

"Women can drop in and get their blood pressure checked, and I will be explaining the normal blood pressure ranges and giving them a blood pressure diary that they can use at home," says Kathy Hesser, R.N., coordinator of the Washington Women's Center. "Sometimes when you get your blood pressure checked at the doctor's office, you get what we call the 'white coat effect' because you know you're going to the doctor. It's a good idea to check your blood pressure regularly at home to get a more accurate range."

Hesser says that things like high blood pressure and high cholesterol are just as important for women to be aware of as it is for men - and possibly even more so.
"Unfortunately, women's blood vessels are smaller than men's, and sometimes the treatments they can use to de-clog the arteries aren't a successful as men's simply because women's blood vessels are smaller," she says. "That gives us more of a reason to watch our blood pressure and cholesterol before they become issues."

During her talk, Hesser will explain the correlation between high blood pressure and health issues such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

"Hypertension is the same story over and over again," she says. "The truth is that when you're watching your fats, eating your fiber and eating whole, fresh foods like fruits and vegetables - it's going to affect your blood sugar, your blood pressure and your cholesterol. Nutrition is kind of the core, the repeating phrase and scenario, in every one of our classes. And it all ties together for women."

Hesser will focus on practical, concrete choices women can make - whether shopping for groceries or grabbing a quick bite to eat in the middle of a hectic day.
Recognizing foods that are high in sodium and making educated choices, she says, can go a long way.

"We're going to look at some of the things they can do to affect their blood pressure - what research has shown and how much you can lower your blood pressure by taking certain steps," she says.

Hesser is quick to point out that anyone who is under a doctor's care for high blood pressure should always check with a physician before altering a prescribed medication schedule.

"We'll talk about diet - how to add more fiber as well as looking at the salt content of various foods, and we will go over some Web sites that are in our resource library in the Women's Center," she says. "We'll look at different sites and how to find out how much sodium is in the foods we eat. Then we'll talk about fiber and sodium and how consistent changes to diet can lower your blood pressure."

Hesser says times are changing and many grocery stores have adopted a more farmers market-like approach and even some fast food restaurants have shifted their menus to include more options like salads and grilled chicken. It's all about knowing how to make healthy decisions no matter where you are, she adds.

"We'll have fun as usual," she says. "I want women to walk away with some real life strategies to make changes. It's good to come away with something solid you can use in your everyday life. I think it's great to learn about blood pressure, but it's equally important that women walk away with strategies they can use to make real changes."

To register for the Lunch and Learn Blood Pressure Screening, call (800) 963-7070.
To learn more about upcoming programs and lectures at the Women's Center, visit www.whhs.com, select "Services & Programs" and choose "Women's Health" from the drop-down menu.

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