High blood pressure (HBP or hypertension) is when the force of the blood flowing through your blood vessels is consistently too high. Knowing your number is important, and the best way to do that is to have your blood pressure checked annually.
BLOOD PRESSURE CATEGORY
|SYSTOLIC mm Hg|
DIASTOLIC mm Hg
Less than 120
Less than 80
120 – 129
Less than 80
|High Blood Pressure Stage 1 (Hypertension)|
130 – 139
80 – 89
|High Blood Pressure Stage 2 (Hyptertension)|
140 or higher
90 or higher
Higher than 180
Higher than 120
What do those numbers mean?
The systolic blood pressure (top number) is the pressure in the arteries as the heart contracts.
The diastolic pressure (bottom number) is the pressure in the arteries as the heart relaxes.
Blood pressure readings can vary throughout the day depending on the situation. Factors such as stress, anxiety, foods eaten (caffeine or salt intake), smoking, or exercise can cause pressure to rise. If high blood pressure is detected it’s important to regularly monitor your blood pressure to confirm hypertension.
Hypertension’s effects on your body
High blood pressure is a symptomless “silent killer” that damages blood vessels and leads to serious health threats and increases your risk for dangerous health conditions
- First heart attack: Nearly 70% of people were diagnosed with high blood pressure before having their first hear attack.
- First stroke: About 8 of every 10 people having their first stroke have high blood pressure.
- Chronic heart failure: 70% of people with chronic heart failure have high blood pressure.
Treatment and Prevention
Although you cannot control all of your risk factors for high blood pressure, you can take steps to prevent or control high blood pressure and its complications.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is vital to keeping your blood pressure in the “normal” range.
- Eat a well-balanced, low-salt diet
- Increase your potassium intake. Good sources of potassium include:
- Limit alcohol
- Stay active
- Aim for about 2.5 hours of exercise every week
- Manage stress
- Maintain a healthy weight
- No smoking
Adopting a healthy lifestyle will positively affect every aspect of your life but there are several benefits directly relating to your heart health.
- Reduce high blood pressure.
- Prevent or delay the development of high blood pressure.
- Enhance the effectiveness of blood pressure medications.
Making simple lifestyle changes can also lower your risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney damage, vision loss and sexual dysfunction.
It’s important to listen to your doctor and learn to monitor your blood pressure at home. While heart disease is still the number one killer around the world, the death rate has decreased thanks to early diagnoses and better treatment.