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Killing You Quietly

4 out of every 10 adults in the world have a problem that can kill them: Hypertension. High blood pressure. It’s a risk factor for heart attack -- the #1 cause of premature death in the world -- and stroke- the #3 cause of death.

Those are worldwide statistics. Here at home, new data from the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System reveal that one-third of all adults in the United States have hypertension.

The report notes percentages of affected adults by state. Mississippi has the dubious honor of the highest percentage of adults with hypertension: 35.9 percent. Minnesota is in last place – the best place -- with 20.9 percent. Georgia’s in the middle. 31.9% of adults have hypertension.

The report looked at trends since 2005. All states had increases. Georgia’s number of adults with high blood pressure increased 12.4%. This is not the direction we want to go.

There is good news: More people with high blood pressure are taking medication -- an increase from 61.1% to 62.6% since 2005. Better recognition and treatment can mean better blood pressure control and fewer complications.

Hypertension is often called a silent killer. There are often no symptoms until it is too late. Find out where you stand. Get your blood pressure checked, and make sure you understand the numbers.

The top number is called the systolic pressure. It measures pressure when the heart is beating. The bottom number, or diastolic pressure, measures pressure when the heart is resting between beats. Normal blood pressure is less than 130/85. Blood pressure warrants treatment when it is higher than 140/90.

There are proven medicine-free ways you can lower blood pressure: daily exercise and diet. Limit alcohol. Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, high in potassium, and low in salt.

Find out where you stand. Get your blood pressure checked.

Click here for more on how salt affects blood pressure.