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The “Silent Killer” is Stalking North Dakotans

May 23, 2011

FARGO, N.D. - May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month across the nation. In North Dakota, more than 25 percent of adults report having high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.

That may seem high, but dietician Mary Larson with Family HealthCare Center, Fargo, says what is worse is that many people who have high blood pressure do not even know it.

"It has been called the 'silent killer,' because a person doesn't necessarily have symptoms that they really recognize as anything they should be concerned about."

Larson explains that high blood pressure is so dangerous because it can affect the elasticity of the arterial walls.

"That can affect pretty greatly a person's health, through the stress it has on the arteries and the heart and the brain and the other organs."

Untreated high blood pressure can lead to heart disease and stroke, the first- and third-leading causes of death in North Dakota, Larson says. Ways to lower blood pressure include physical activity, losing weight, quitting smoking, eating more fruits and vegetables, and lowering salt intake.

In addition to lifestyle factors, genetics can also lead to hypertension. That is why it is so important to have blood pressure checked on a regular basis, Larson says.

Chronic disease statistics for North Dakota are available at www.cdc.gov.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - ND