By Emily Klinkenborg | U.S. Army Medical Department Activity — Fort Carson Public Affairs Office
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Hearts fill homes, offices and aisles of the grocery stores every February, but Valentine’s Day isn’t the only reason why hearts receive special attention this month every year.
In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued a proclamation to declare February as American Heart Month. This year’s focus is on hypertension.
“Hypertension is elevated blood pressure,” said Dr. Erika Overbeek-Wager, Department of Primary Care chief. “If left untreated it can increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, one of the leading causes of death for both men and women.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one in two U.S. adults experience hypertension and only one in four adults have it under control.
The Office of the Surgeon General issued a call to action centering on the negative health effects of hypertension and outlining three goals to help Americans improve their cardiovascular health.
The national strategies include increasing awareness of health risks, promoting physical activity and healthy nutrition opportunities, and optimizing patient care for hypertension.
The call to action explains that eating foods with higher levels of potassium, fiber and protein can protect against heart disease and stroke. Meals with lower sodium and saturated fat contents also support a healthy diet. The combination of balanced nutrition and physical activity help individuals lose weight and lower blood pressure.
“The American Heart Association recommends every adult and child exercises for at least 150 minutes per week,” said Overbeek-Wager.
“There are several programs available aimed at living a healthier lifestyle, including the Army Wellness Center, weight management program and nutrition team.”
Measuring blood pressure is the first step in managing hypertension. Individuals can purchase a blood pressure monitor for home use or schedule a visit with their PCM to have their blood pressure checked.
To schedule an appointment with a provider at Evans Army Community Hospital call 524-2273.
“Talk with your primary care provider about available options,” said Overbeek-Wager. “It’s never too late to get your blood pressure under control.”