Blood pressure numbers can indicate a healthy heart

CORBIN - Knowing your blood pressure numbers is the first step to improving your heart health and protecting your vital organs.

"Heart problems are the leading cause of death in the United States," cautioned Khaled Saleh, M.D., cardiologist at Baptist Health Corbin. "Nearly one in every four Americans are killed by heart disease. Cardiovascular disease claim more lives than all forms of cancer combined."

Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney disease, vision loss, and other problems. High blood pressure, called hypertension, can cause damage in your body for years before symptoms develop. That is why finding out your numbers is critical -- even if you feel fine.

Dr. Saleh added, "Hypertension is a silent killer. Be smart and stay proactive with preventative care. Knowing your body and staying in tune and up to date on your health just might save your life." If your numbers are elevated, you and your doctor can make a plan to lower them with lifestyle changes or medication, heading off problems later on.

Understanding Blood Pressure Numbers

A blood pressure reading consists of a top number and a bottom number. The top number is your systolic blood pressure; that is how much pressure your blood is putting on your artery walls during heartbeats. The bottom number, diastolic blood pressure, tells you how much pressure your blood is putting on your artery walls when the heart is at rest, between beats.

New guidelines for what constitutes high blood pressure lowered the threshold from 140/90 to 130/80, resulting in nearly half the adults in the U.S. now having the condition.

If you are one of them, do not panic; high blood pressure can be lowered. The key is knowing you have it before it damages your body. If you experience a combination of any of these symptoms, it is important to talk to your doctor to learn more.

Aching in the shoulder and chest - chest pains, especially on the left side, have long been a potential sign for an impending heart attack. Slow and gradual buildup of pain in the shoulder may indicate some unhealthy heart issues.

Snoring and sleeping problems - episodes of sleep apnea, which can cause you to wake up gasping for air, cause inconsistent sleep patterns that can be stressful to the heart.

Difficulty with sexual function - Erectile dysfunction can be an early warning sign of current or future heart problems.

Irregular heartbeat known as arrhythmias can be an indication for heart failure or impending heart attack.

Sore gums and jaw - doctors have found gum diseases and heart issues are related. Pain running from the heart up to the jaw area is a common sign of a heart attack.

Puffy legs and feet - swelling in the lower extremities are caused by the improper flow of blood to the heart. This causes blood to clot up or completely stop your heart from working.

Shortness of breath and fatigue - blood vessels can get backed up due to an unhealthy heart and it starts spreading to places it shouldn't, like the lungs causing shortness of breath.

Dizzy/light headedness - This can be a sign that blood flow to the brain is restricted, which is the leading cause for strokes and heart attacks.

Persistent cough - a never-ending cough can be a sign of fluid building up in your lungs, which is a sign of congestive heart failure.

Random bouts of cold sweats - sweating, especially cold sweats, may be a sign of a problem with your heart when you are not doing any sort of physical activity, especially when there is chest pain associated with it. The sweat may come from your body tying to cool down the inflammation around the heart.

To find a physician near you or to find out more about heart disease, go to

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