For those of us who are child neurologists, it is no surprise that early life exposures, habits, experiences, and health status greatly influence and sometimes even predict health in later life. There is no magic switch that delineates childhood from adulthood. Development is forever, and many influencers on later health happen in very early or even prenatal life. That’s why it is so important that, even if they feel fine, children, adolescents, and young adults watch their weight, their blood pressure, their diet, and their level of regular exercise. After all, nobody’s got you like you got you! You say you spend most of your time taking care of your family, your job, and your community? Well then, where would they be without you? For you and especially for them, you have to take care of yourself.
To that end, and in recognition of May having been Stroke Awareness Month, I want to call attention to the fact that high blood pressure is a silent and long-term killer. Most people who have it don’t realize it because they don’t have symptoms. And they are young enough that they aren’t even thinking about being slowed down or worse by their health. But, over time, little by little, high blood pressure damages blood vessels, particularly in the brain. It makes you more likely to have a stroke or get dementia.
African American and Hispanic/Latino men are more likely to have high blood pressure in mid-life and to later develop stroke or dementia because of it. So please, first check out our updated Mind Your Risks website. Then check your blood pressure – at home, in your local pharmacy or supermarket, at your healthcare office, or wherever a blood pressure gauge is available. And if it is not normal, call your healthcare professional right away. You are too precious to too many to risk stroke or dementia because of something that is readily treatable. Do it today. For you and for everyone who depends on you.