Blood pressure - why you need to know your numbers, and how to get a heart check for free

It's a painless, non-invasive screening - you can do it almost anywhere, your blood pressure.

Do you know your blood pressure? We can help you with that on Saturday - join us for the Healthy Heart Project.

"Blood pressure is what we call the silent killer," said Sindhu Koshy,  Ascension Providence cardiologist. "Imagine it this way, your vessels are like pipe. So if the pipe is really tight, now your heart has to push really hard to get blood out of that pipe. Your heart doesn't want to work that hard. It wants things to be really easy, it wants the easiest path.

"If the heart starts to struggle, then eventually it fails, which can cause heart failure, and strokes. You can have a heart attack from those things. Eventually, all that plumbing, it backs up like any other plumbing. So fluid that starts to move forward, starts to move into your lungs, into your legs and you get swelling."

Koshy said the magic number is 120 over 80 or less - remember that.

"When you walk out of your doctor's office, you should know what your blood pressure was that day, you should know where it should be, and you should have a plan on how you're going to get there," she said. "So, what are the meds, Is it exercise, is it diet, do I need to decrease my salt? You need to have a plan.

"Once you know you have hypertension or pre-hypertension - meaning you are borderline on your blood pressure, now you should get a blood pressure cuff for home. It does not need to be a real expensive cuff, something you can just press a button and it will tell you the number. So that way you can record these numbers for your doctor."

And just because you feel fine, doesn't mean your system isn't struggling.

Related: Healthy Heart Project on April 27 provides free screenings and doctor consultations

"Most patients don't feel anything," she said. "The times when we start to feel a headache or chest pain or shortness of breath with high blood pressure, we're in trouble. We want you to know before that. Because as soon as blood pressure starts creeping up, we want to be able to treat it then, before we do get into trouble. The trouble is heart attacks and strokes - those are the big ones. We don't want you to have either of those things."

This is the blood pressure cuff from my FOX 2 office always available for my FOX 2 family members.

Remember, chronic stress, age, less movement, lots of sodium - that can all trigger a jump in your blood pressure. That's why you need to keep an eye on it frequently.

Remember our Healthy Heart Project on Saturday, it’s a whole heart checkup –  and it’s all free. You’ll get extensive free screenings including blood pressure, BMI, blood glucose, even an electrocardiogram - plus, meet one-on-one with a doctor. 

Here's what you need to know, on April 27th, the Healthy Heart Project is happening in Metro Detroit at three locations:

  • Ascension Providence in Southfield
  • Ascension Providence in Rochester
  • Ascension St. John in Detroit 

Doors open at 7 a.m., and registration stops at 11 a.m.