No doubt over the years as you have shopped at the grocery store you noticed a blood pressure machine, usually near the pharmacy. Why is it there, why do people test themselves, and more importantly should you? Let’s take a few minutes to understand what blood pressure is and why some people have high blood pressure, which is called Hypertension.
What is Blood Pressure?
This is the force that blood presses or pushes against the walls of your arteries as it flows through your body. Each time your heart beats, it pumps blood into the arteries. Basically your body is squeezing blood throughout your body to all your organs. As your heart beats your blood pressure changes. When your heart beats your blood pressure is at its highest. In between heart beats, your heart is actually at rest and your blood pressure falls to a lower rate. Your blood pressure is highest when your heart beats, pumping the blood. The high number when your heart beats is called the systolic pressure and when at rest is the diastolic pressure.
When reading your number or understanding it, the systolic number is before the diastolic number. Here are some examples.
119/79 or lower is normal blood pressure
140/90 or higher is considered high blood pressure
What is High Blood Pressure or Hypertension?
We need to define what high blood pressure is . This is when your blood pressure, the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your blood vessels, is consistently too high.
So readings between 120 and 139 for the top number, or between 80 and 89 for the bottom number is called prehypertension. Prehypertension means you may end up with high blood pressure, unless you take steps to prevent it. High blood pressure usually has no symptoms, but it can cause serious problems such as stroke, heart failure, heart attack and kidney failure.
What Can You Do?
High blood pressure (HBP or hypertension) is sometimes referred to at the “silent killer” since there are usually no symptoms while it is causing damage to your body.
Here some things you can do to help you maintain a heathy lifestyle and keep your blood pressure safe with with diet and exercise.
- Eat a well-balanced, low-salt diet
- Limit alcohol
- Enjoy regular physical activity
- Manage stress
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Quit smoking
- Take your medications properly
- Work together with your doctor
- Know your numbers
Of course if you are concerned or haven’t had your blood pressure tested, please see your doctor. If you know that you are at risk or need to make changes, the best time to start is now.