You’ve probably heard your doctor, or a member of your family, tell you that it’s a good idea to monitor your blood pressure. Since May is National High Blood Pressure Education month, here are some reasons why it’s important that you pay attention to this number.
First, let’s start off with the basics:
What is Blood Pressure?
At its simplest, blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps blood. If this pressure rises and stays high over time, it can damage the body. That’s why it is important to know your blood pressure and follow your health care professional’s instructions if it is too high.
Why Should We Care About High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure is a serious condition that can lead to heart disease, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure, vision loss, and other health problems. In fact, high blood pressure puts millions of Americans at
increased risk for heart disease and stroke – two of the leading causes of death in the U.S.
Do I Have High Blood Pressure?
Your blood pressure is made up of two numbers, like a fraction. It is measured in millimeters of mercury (abbreviated as mmHg). Both numbers are important in determining whether your blood pressure is normal or high. The top number (known as systolic) represents the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats, while the bottom number (diastolic) represents the pressure in your vessels as your heart rests between beats.
Systolic: less than 120 mmHg
Diastolic: less than 80 mmHg
At Risk for High Blood Pressure (Prehypertension)
Systolic: 120-139 mmHg
Diastolic: 80-89 mmHg
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
Systolic: 140 mmHg or higher
Diastolic: 90 mmHg or higher
What Should I Do?
Population-based studies have consistently demonstrated an inverse association between physical activity, healthy dieting and blood pressure. Research has shown that 20-30 minutes of mild to moderate aerobatic exercise three times per week can lower blood pressure.
With summer approaching there are absolutely no excuses not to exercise. Start out slow and increase the duration and the intensity of your exercise as the summer progresses. By adopting a regular exercise program the degree of blood pressure reduction is typically in the range of 5 to 10 mm Hg for both the systolic and the diastolic readings.
Patients with High BP should focus their efforts onto achieving a normal body weight for their age and height. Weight loss can significantly improve and potentially eliminate high blood pressure; it can also reduce the number of prescription drugs you take. Those who struggle with high BP should increase fruit and vegetable intake. Try incorporating potassium, fibers, calcium, magnesium, beneficial oils and lean meats into your diet.
Sample Hypertension Diet Plan
1 cup Fat Free Milk
1 cup High-Fiber Cereal
1 cup Orange Juice 6 fl oz
1 cup of fat free yogurt
1/3 cup of Almonds
1 cup of Mixed Greens Salad
2-4 ribs of celery
1 ½ oz of chicken or turkey
¼ cup of beans (any)
¼ cup of onion
0.5oz of part-skim mozzarella cheese
2 teaspoons of Olive Oil
Tomatoes to taste
Lemon Juice or Vinegar to taste
Snack (Vegetable/ Fruit Smoothie)
½ cup watermelon
½ berried (any berried for flavoroids)
¼ cup spinach
¼ cup Chia Seeds (For protein and magnesium)
¼ cup celery
1lb Baked Salmon
1 whole onion
½ cup lemon juice
Sesame seeds to taste
½ grated carrots
Broil on high for 6-8 min and enjoy
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