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Understanding Blood Pressure

By September 16, 2019 No Comments

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Understanding Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is defined as the rate at which the blood pulses through your body and is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). Blood pressure readings are made up of two numbers: systolic and diastolic.

  • Systolic pressure is the top number and measures pressure in your arteries during heartbeats.
  • Diastolic pressure is the bottom number and measures pressure in your arteries between heartbeats.

Normal blood pressure numbers should clock in at less than 120/80 mmHg. Your blood pressure can vary throughout the day or during periods of stress, but if you’re constantly experiencing higher readings, your doctor may discuss lifestyle modifications, such as eating less salt, losing weight or exercising more.

You should know — and respond to — the following numbers:

  • Systolic numbers between 120 and 139 and diastolic numbers between 80 and 89 are signs of prehypertension.
  • Systolic numbers between 140 and 159 and diastolic numbers between 90 and 99 are signs of the first stage of hypertension, or high blood pressure.
  • Systolic numbers of 160 or higher and diastolic numbers of 100 or higher are signs of stage two hypertension.

The American Heart Association recommends you have your blood pressure checked during your annual routine wellness visit, or at least every two years.

If high blood pressure is left uncontrolled, you could cause harm to your body, including weakened blood vessels, and be at higher risk for heart disease and stroke.

Take control of your blood pressure today with these four steps.

  1. Understand your personal risk. Some people may have a family history of high blood pressure or other predispositions. If you have a family history of high blood pressure, talk with your doctor about how you can manage your blood pressure.
  2. Chill out. Stress can cause your blood pressure to spike. Take 10 or 15 minutes each day to reduce stressful feelings with activities such as journaling, meditating or praying, or listening to soothing music.
  3. Eat fresh, whole foods. If an item comes in a box, bag, can or package, skip it whenever possible. Such foods often contain extra sodium that can cause blood pressure to rise.
  4. Make movement the norm. Schedule time to be active every day, whether it’s walking, dancing, swimming, playing tennis or going to the gym. Routine exercise helps keep blood pressure low.

Have blood pressure questions? Talk with your doctor at your next appointment.