Teens: What to Get Dad for Father's Day

Teens: What to Get Dad for Father's Day

You could macramé a staircase from here to the moon with all the ties dads get for Father’s Day, and only three men in North America would realize that their paisley polka-dot neckwear was gone. Well, don’t tell the haberdashery industry, but a teen-engagement organization called dosomething.org is trying to change the go-to gift for dad. Put a cuff around his arm instead of a tie around his neck, the organization says. In other words: Kids, for this Father’s Day, take your dad to the drugstore for a blood pressure check!

Dosomething.org has a locator that can help you find a nearby drugstore offering free testing. If kids snap a picture of their dad checking his pressure and send it in to the organization along with the results, they might win a hefty scholarship. But even if they don’t win, the move will pay off. Because high blood pressure is a really bad thing, and many people don’t realize they have it.

Men and women both get high blood pressure—in fact, women are more likely to develop it than men. But women are also more likely to do something about the problem, and that’s probably part of the reason that women live five years longer than men, on average.

Chances are, Dad won’t feel a thing if his blood pressure is high, but that doesn’t mean damage isn’t being done. You probably already know about the increased risk of heart disease and stroke that comes with high blood pressure, but here are some problems you might not guess:

It can turn a hill into a mountain. High blood pressure makes arteries stiff, which keeps blood from flowing freely. That can cause peripheral artery disease (PAD), a condition that leaves legs numb, painful, and achy. Walking up a hill or climbing stairs can become an impossible feat. If PAD gets bad enough, it can cause blood clots and even lead to leg amputation.

It can wreck the kidneys. High blood pressure is one of the top causes of kidney failure. Kidney failure isn’t a sexy problem—no telethons or triathlons for this one. But it’s life-changing. More than that, it’s potentially life-ending: If your kidneys go, you either get dialysis, have a kidney transplant or die.

It can make you forget where you left your keys (or how to drive your car). Hypertension doesn’t rob just your legs of blood—it also starves your brain. And your brain is hungry, gobbling up a quart of blood per minute. Put a kink in the hose and it stops working right.

Kids, those are great reasons to cart your dad off to the drugstore for Father’s Day. But why not give his blood pressure a break and let him drive.

Medically reviewed in December 2019.

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