Understanding Blood Pressure
What Is Normal Blood Pressure
High blood pressure put very simply is the force of your blood pushing on the wall of your blood vessels. When it is consistently high we call this hypertension or high blood pressure.
Systolic And Diastolic Blood Pressure
When measuring blood pressure you must take a reading of two different blood pressure forces.
The systolic blood pressure is when the heart is contracting and pumping the blood through your vessels.
When you look at a blood pressure reading like 120/80 mm Hg (stated as 120 millimeters of mercury over 80 millimeters of mercury ), the top number – 120 is the systolic blood pressure reading.
This is when the heart is at rest between beats and is expanding to fill with blood so it can pump once again.
When you look at a blood pressure reading like 120/80 mm Hg (stated as 120 millimeters of mercury over 80 millimeters of mercury ), the bottom number – 80 is the diastolic number.
Which Number Is More Important?
Generally the systolic receives more attention as a serious risk factor for cardiovascular disease. However, if the systolic or the diastolic pressures are elevated either can be used to diagnose high blood pressure.
What’s Normal Blood Pressure?
A good blood pressure will be below 140/85 mm Hg
A great blood pressure will be 115/75 mm Hg
If the systolic (top number) is higher than 140 or your diastolic (bottom number) gets up to 90 it’s time to see your doctor.
Image Source http://www.heart.org
There are five blood pressure range categories recognized by the American Heart Association
1. Normal Blood Pressure
Your blood pressure is less than 120/80
- Keep eating a healthy diet and get regular exercise to keep it there.
2. Pre-hypertension (early stages of high blood pressure)
Your blood pressure is ranging from 120-139/80-89 mm Hg
- People at this stage are more likely to develop high blood pressure if they do not take appropriate steps to control it.
- Talk to your doctor.
3. Hypertension Stage 1
Your blood pressure is consistently ranging between 140-159/90-99
- See your doctor they may prescribe some medication and lifestyle changes
4. Hypertension Stage 2
Your blood pressure is consistently higher than 160/100 mm Hg
See your doctor. With blood pressure this high you will need some lifestyle changes and you may be prescribed medication.
5. Hypertensive crisis
Your blood pressure is higher than 180/110
You may experience symptoms such as chest pain, back pain numbness, weakness, short of breath, vision problems and difficulty speaking
You must seek medical attention immediately – call an ambulance
Damage Caused By High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure increases the workload of the heart and blood vessels so they are under more strain and work less efficiently. In time this will begin to damage the inner walls of the blood vessels causing the formation of plaque at the injury site.
As the damage increases, more plaque will build up which in turn will narrow the arteries and increase the blood pressure.
This is the beginning of a very vicious cycle which can lead to
- Kidney failure
- Heart attack/Angina or both
- Heart failure
How Can I Control My Blood Pressure
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Eat healthy – low fat/low sodium/low sugar
- Limit your alcohol intake: women 1 drink a day – men 2 drinks
- Get regular exercise (30-40 min moderate exercise 3-4 times a week)
- See your doctor you may need medication
- Understand what your blood pressure should be and keep an eye on it.
To keep an eye on your blood pressure is a very simple procedure that takes ten minutes a day. Take a look at these very affordable, automatic blood pressure monitors at Amazon