Health center offers testing

By Vickie Snow

The University Health Service usually sees only mild high blood pressure cases, but if hypertension is not detected early, it can lead to larger, more serious problems.

The college years “are the best time to catch hypertension,” said Lee Price, director of public information for the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois. “To escape major complications, you have to catch high blood pressure early.”

Price said, “People who have lost their kidney functions could have avoided so.” Kidney damage is just one of the problems that high blood pressure can cause. Other complications include brain and heart damage.

“Everybody should have their blood pressure taken sometime,” said Rosemary Lane, health center director. “The higher the reading, the more damage there is to the cardiovascular system.”

An average reading for most people of college age is around 110/70, Lane said.

Lane explained the normal ranges of blood pressure readings. The top number represents when the heart is relaxed and produces the least amount of pressure on the arteries. This number is called the diastolic pressure and can range from 90 to 140. The lower figure, which signifies the contracting of the heart and the greatest amount of pressure on the arteries, can vary from 50 to 90 and is referred to as the systolic pressure.

A mild case of hypertension is 140/90 or slightly over, Lane said.

The victims of hypertension are typically overweight, have a history of hypertension in their family, or have a high salt diet.

The treatment of high blood pressure “depends on the severity (of the reading),” Lane said. Generally, treatment includes changes in lifestyle and/or medication.

Reducing excess calories, alcohol and salt in the diet, staying in good shape, and avoiding stress are ways to keep the blood pressure from rising.

According to the Kidney Foundation, there are no symptoms of hypertension. The only way to discover the problem is by having a blood pressure reading taken.

Students can have their blood pressure taken at the health center anytime during office hours, free of charge.