Diet, weight, sodium intake and stress all can affect blood pressure. And with no warning signs, high blood pressure may develop before a person is aware of it.
The American Heart Association offers a number of blood pressure screening locations, information and recommendations during May, which is High Blood Pressure Month.
"It is important for periodic monitoring of blood pressure to take place and should be done once each year," said Dr. James Brodsky, chairman of medical and community programs for the Heart Association.
An estimated 58 million Americans have high blood pressure, and 50 percent of those who have it do not control it properly. This can lead to kidney disease, stroke and heart disease.
"Generally speaking, most Americans consume too much salt," Brodsky said. "They should be restricting salt to between two and four grams of sodium per day." Foods high in sodium include hot dogs, bacon, pork, ham and many canned foods and foods, such as TV dinners.
Other recommendations for people with high blood pressure include losing weight in cases of obesity, moderating alcohol comsumption and reducing stress.
For screening locations and more information in the District, call: 337-6400; in Montgomery County: 229-8100; in Prince George's County: 277-5116; in Northern Virginia: 941-8500.