Get Squeezed: Do You Know Your Blood Pressure Numbers?

medical assistant classesStudents taking medical assistant classes at Globe University-Sioux Falls assisted with The Big Squeeze, a month-long hypertension initiative that brings awareness and understanding to the seriousness and prevention of high blood pressure. Our medical assistant students incorporated the Big Squeeze initiative into an applied learning project in which they checked blood pressures at Capital One, various Get N Go’s, and Midcontinent Communications during the month of April.

One in three Americans has high blood pressure and only half of them have it under control.  In 2012, more than 5,350 people were screened, and 17 percent had a high blood pressure reading.  Of that 17 percent, 42.9 percent had never been told by a health care professional that they had high blood pressure.

This is the second year Globe University has assisted with The Big Squeeze.  Jen Johnson, HFS, the Public Health Project Lead, stated, “We are so pleased to have had the opportunity to partner with Globe University students in The Big Squeeze 2013. They have really helped in this community-wide blood pressure initiative in getting many of the top 20 employers screened.”

Applied learning at Globe University enhances students’ learning by allowing them to do career-specific activities. This also allows them to network with potential employers and get hands-on experience in a real job setting.  This is one of many valuable tools our faculty utilize in and out of the classroom to enhance the learning environment. 

The students, who are earning 2-year medical assistant degrees, also set up a blood pressure screening table on campus. They gave out educational materials and performed blood pressure screenings.

Alysha Campbell, one of the many medical assisting students that assisted with the project, said she “appreciated the hands-on experience and working with the public to get real life experience.”

medical assistant classesWhat is Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure refers to the force exerted by circulating blood on the walls of blood vessels, and constitutes one of the principal vital signs.

The pressure of the circulating blood decreases as blood moves through arteries, arterioles, capillaries, and veins; the term blood pressure generally refers to arterial pressure, i.e., the pressure in the larger arteries, arteries being the blood vessels which take blood away from the heart.

Blood pressure is always given as two numbers – systolic pressure (when the heart beats) and diastolic pressure (when the heart relaxes). When the measurements are written down, both are written one above or before the other with the systolic being the first number.

Normal Blood Pressure – Blood pressure reading below 120/80 is considered normal.

High Blood Pressure – Blood pressure of 140/90 or higher is considered high blood pressure. If one or both numbers are usually high, you have high blood pressure.

Low Blood Pressure – Blood pressure that is too low is known as hypo-tension. The similarity in pronunciation with hypertension can cause confusion.

What should my blood pressure be according to my age?

This chart shows the average blood pressure range by age. High blood pressure can be lowered or managed by altering a person’s lifestyle.  Some changes can include watching the salt intake in meals, exercise and weight loss.  A small weight change of five pounds can lower a person’s blood pressure.

 By Jo Penning, CMA and Medical Assistant Instructor, Globe University-Sioux Falls