KINGSTON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — As part of American Heart Month, medical experts are raising awareness of the role high blood pressure plays in heart disease. It’s to blame for nearly half of all heart disease cases.

The American Heart Association says nearly half of Americans 20 years of age or older have high blood pressure.

Most of us may think we know the normal or healthy blood pressure range, but it turns out most are wrong.

While inside Cook’s Pharmacy, Nolan Ott did something he usually does not do.

“Obviously, I’m young, 23, so it’s never really crossed my mind very much to think about it,” said Nolan Ott from Montoursville.

He checked his blood pressure numbers.

“What are you feeling right now?” Hiller asks.
“Just squeezing on my arm and you could kind of feel the beat in your arm,” said Ott.

About a minute later, the results came in as 158 over 89.

Even though he says high blood pressure runs in his family, Ott did not expect these numbers.

“I kind of thought they’d be a little elevated but not that high. It’s definitely a little concerning,” said Ott.

Roughly three in four people 65 and older have high blood pressure, but seniors are not the only ones.

“It’s really important starting even at a young age to follow your blood pressure, see what the reading is because if your blood pressure is high it increases your risk for heart attack and stroke,” said Danielle Kieck, a Pharmacist from Cook’s Pharmacy.

So what do the numbers mean?

The top one, or systolic number, indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls when your heart is beating.

The bottom one, or diastolic number, indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls between heartbeats. Normal blood pressure for adults is considered lower than 120/80.

“They’ve done studies where, you know, a ten-point higher blood pressure leads to a certain percent increase in risk,” said Commonwealth Health Interventional Cardiologist Doctor Bradley Fenster.

Risk of heart disease, but Interventional Cardiologist Bradley Fenster, MD. says you have the power to lower your blood pressure BY reducing salty, greasy foods you eat, dropping unwanted pounds, and staying active.

“If you really, truly adhere to each of these lifestyle improvements you can lower your blood pressure, each of those can result in a blood pressure lowering of a few points,” said Dr. Fenster.

Something to consider no matter your age.

“Seeing the numbers today is definitely something I need to think more about,” said Ott.

Besides contributing to heart disease, high blood pressure over time can cause organ damage.