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Knowing Your Numbers Might Save Your Life
When your doctor or other health expert says, “Know your numbers,” they’re most likely referring to your blood pressure. And the reason it’s so important to know those numbers is because it could literally save your life.
“Blood pressure is a key indicator for determining your risk of developing some serious illnesses,” says Linda Ly, M.D., a board-certified Family Medicine physician at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic. “Controlling your blood pressure readings – or numbers – can help safeguard your health.”
Dr. Ly says high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is the most common cardiovascular disease.
“What’s scary is that almost anyone can have it and not know it,” she says. “Left uncontrolled, along with heart disease, high blood pressure can also be a contributing factor in causing a stroke, kidney disease, eye problems and a shortened life expectancy.”
Blood pressure readings are determined by measuring the force of blood against vessel walls and recorded as two numbers, written as a ratio.
“Systolic, the top number, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats,” she explains. “Diastolic, the bottom number, measures pressure in the arteries between beats.”
Emphasizing that blood pressure can vary from person to person and rise or fall with changes in physical activity or emotional state, Dr. Ly suggests you have a serious discussion with your personal physician about what blood pressure ranges are best for you.
“See your primary care physician for a complete medical checkup and learn more about your numbers and what they mean to your health. Your body will thank you for it,” concludes Dr. Ly, who cares for patients at Kelsey-Seybold’s Main Campus.