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Today there is a lot of uncertainty on just about everything.  I know it’s a little bit scary returning to your normal routine and going about business as usual, but we must gradually return back for ourselves and for our beloved business owners.  It’s possible that you are anxious to get back to your barber or hairdresser, or you may have already been in to get that trim or cut.  I want to say that it is okay to feel that way!  In order to keep yourself safe, here are some things to consider before visiting public places or places where there are lots of people.

Maintain Social Distancing

When in the shops and salons, try to stay away from others by keeping a distance of 6 feet, except when barbershop and salon staff are providing their services.

Protective Gear

While receiving your treatments and waiting in the salons, try to wear a mask when possible.  Remember, a homemade mask is better than no mask at all!

Wearing one will not only protect yourself, but also those around you. It’s also important to wash your hands with soap and warm water frequently because even touching different surfaces can spread the virus.

Blood Pressure Month

I’d also like to add that May was blood pressure education month, and although we won’t be at the shops due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), still make sure to check that your blood pressure is normal.

What You Need to Know About High Blood Pressure

According to the National Heart Association, high blood pressure is the force of blood flowing through your blood vessels that is consistently too high.  If left untreated, the damage of high blood pressure is a significant contributing factor to heart attack, stroke and other health problems.

What the Numbers Mean

A blood pressure number of less than 120/80 are considered normal (shown in green in the table above).

If you check your blood pressure at home, the systolic value, which is the upper number, tells you how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls when your heart beats.  This value should be LESS than 120.

The diastolic value, which is the lower number, tells you how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls while the heart is resting between beats.  This value should be LESS than 80.

While both numbers are significant, the systolic value (upper number) is especially important because a higher systolic value is a major risk factor for heart disease for people over 50 years of age.

Those whose blood pressure category falls under elevated (shown in yellow in the table above), are likely to develop high blood pressure unless steps are taken to control this.

Hypertension, which is the medical term for high blood pressure (values shown in orange and red in the table above), is the category at which doctors might recommend taking blood pressure medication, so that your BP stays under control.  However, the best treatment is preventing high blood pressure in the first place.  The key to controlled blood pressure is eating healthy and exercising!

The Difference Between Pulse and Blood pressure

Your pulse (also known as your heart rate) is the number of times your heart beats per minute.  In contrast, blood pressure is the force of your blood moving through your blood vessels.  It is important to understand that an increasing heart rate does not cause your blood pressure to increase at the same rate.  If your heart is beating more times a minute, your blood vessels get larger to allow more blood to flow through them more easily.  For example, when you exercise, your heart speeds up so more blood can reach your muscles, but this doesn’t mean that exercising is increasing your blood pressure.

How to Get your Blood Pressure Under Control

If for some reason your blood pressure is reading high, don’t fear!  The first and most important step is acknowledging that your blood pressure is high and that you want to fix it!  There are many things you can do to have normal blood pressure:

  1. Eat a well-balanced diet. Your goal should be to eat a diet that’s rich in fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, low-fat dairy products, skinless poultry and fish, nuts, and legumes.  If you use oils in your cooking use vegetable oils like canola and olive.

What foods you should limit:  Red meat, sodium (salt), sweets, and foods with added sugars and sugar containing beverages.

  1. Regular physical activity: Get around 150 minutes a week or 30 minutes most days of the week. Examples of exercises include, walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, or dancing! This can help keep your blood pressure levels normal consistently.

During the coronavirus pandemic, taking a walk or running in parks and creek trails is a great way to be active while protecting yourself from the virus!

  1. Quitting smoking and only drinking alcohol in moderation: Generally, no more than one drink a day for women and 2 drinks a day for men.  One drink is equivalent to 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor.

In all, the best thing you can do to keep yourself healthy is to eat nutritious food as often as you can.  It’s also important to exercise regularly and keep your body moving!  If you do take medications for hypertension (high blood pressure), it is very import ant to take them regularly in addition to maintaining your healthy life-style.

How to Monitor your Blood Pressure at Home

Before taking your blood pressure, don’t eat or drink 30 minutes before and make sure you empty your bladder.  It’s also important to rest quietly for 5 minutes before taking it.

To take your blood pressure, make sure you are in the right position. Sit with your back straight on a chair and have your feet flat on the floor (don’t cross your feet).

Place your arm on a flat surface like a table with your upper arm at heart level.

Make sure the bottom of the blood pressure cuff is placed directly above the bend of the elbow as seen in the picture to the right.

The cuff shouldn’t be worn over your clothes, so make sure you wear a short-sleeved shirt, or a shirt that you can roll up.

Ideally, you should measure your blood pressure at the same time every day and record it each time so you can track your readings.

Compare your readings to the chart above to understand what your results mean.

What to do if your Blood Pressure Readings are High

If you take your blood pressure and your monitor readings are higher than normal, take your blood pressure a few more times to see if your readings are similar.  Verify with a health professional if you have a health concern or if you think there are problems with your blood pressure monitor.

In addition, if your readings exceed 180/120, check your blood pressure again after 5 minutes.  If they are similarly high, and you are having any symptoms please contact your doctor immediately as these results may indicate a hypertensive crisis.  If you are experiencing other symptoms in addition to high blood pressure, it is important to seek medical attention right away.

 

All in all, we want you to be safe and healthy always, so please reach out if you have any questions!

 

Barbershop/Salon Health Outreach Program, info@coloradoblackhealth.org

Article by Anmol Kaur, University of Denver student

© 2015 Colorado Black Health Collaborative
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