The American Heart Association and American Stroke Association urges you to manage your health during May, National High Blood Pressure Education Month and American Stroke Month.

Robbinsville, NJ - What would you do with five extra summers? Would you learn how to sail? Or hike the Appalachian Trail? Travel the world? At age 50, total life expectancy is about five years longer for people with normal blood pressure than for people with hypertension, or high blood pressure. May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month and American Stroke Month, and the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association wants you to know your risks and manage your health so you can have those five extra summers.

Stroke is the No.5 cause of death among adults in the United States, but it is largely preventable, treatable and beatable. High blood pressure causes stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney disease, vision loss and sexual dysfunction. According to the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association, high blood pressure is usually preventable with simple steps, yet it kills more people worldwide than any other condition. Taking control starts with a simple action — getting your blood pressure checked.

“High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a disease and can have deadly health consequences if not treated,” said Mandy Binning, MD, member of the South-Central NJ American Heart Association and American Stroke Association Regional Board of Directors and Assistant Professor, Department of Neurosurgery at Drexel University College of Medicine. “It can be called "the silent killer" because high blood pressure has no symptoms, so you may not be aware that it's damaging your arteries, heart and other organs.”

Every 40 seconds, someone in America has a stroke. High blood pressure is the most important controllable risk factor for stroke. About 3 in 4 people who have a first-time stroke have blood pressure higher than 140/90 mm Hg.

According to the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association, getting high blood pressure under control could reduce deaths from heart disease and stroke by 30 percent in men and 38 percent in women. Check your blood pressure by May 17, World Hypertension Day, which is part of National High Blood Pressure Education Month. Through World Hypertension Day, the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association is joining other organizations in striving to reach 25 million blood pressure checks globally.

Checking your blood pressure takes just a few minutes at your doctor’s office, at a blood pressure machine located at many local pharmacies, or by using a home monitoring device. Community groups, clinics and workplaces can hold blood pressure checks for large groups through programs like the American Heart Association’s Check. Change. Control. Read more about this free, science-based program at ccctracker.com/aha. By knowing your numbers, gauging and managing your risk for high blood pressure, you can help get those extra summers.

Whether you are dealing with high blood pressure, are a stroke or cardiac arrest survivor, or caretaker, you’re not alone. Improve your life and the lives of others when you join the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association Support Network. Share your experiences, give and get emotional support. Visit heart.org/supportnetwork for more information.