If you have high blood pressure, you aren't alone: more than half of everyone between the ages of 55 and 74 has blood pressure higher than 120/80.
But just because it's common, don't take high blood pressure lightly.
High blood pressure - also known as hypertension - is dangerous because it makes your arteries and your heart work too hard. It also increases your risk for cardiac disease and stroke.
While there are no obvious symptoms and no cure for hypertension, here are some tips to help you maintain healthy blood pressure for a lifetime:
Swallow your medicine - if your health care provider prescribes medication to lower your pressure, take it as directed;
No butts about it - smoking is tough on your arteries, so if you smoke, quit;
Limit alcohol - excess alcohol use has been linked with high blood pressure, so drink only in moderation. For women, that is a maximum of one drink daily while for men, that is a maximum of two drinks daily;
Eat smart - a healthful diet, including reduced salt intake, can reduce blood pressure. Visit the National Institutes of Health's Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH, eating plan for pointers at NIH.gov;
Weigh your options - being overweight raises your blood pressure, so ask your doctor if you need to drop some pounds;
Fit for life - exercise helps to lower your blood pressure. Try to include 30 minutes of moderate activity almost every day;
Westfield Memorial Hospital offers free blood pressure screening the first and third Wednesday of each month from 2 to 4 p.m., in the hospital's front lobby. For more information, call 326-4921.