By Virtue Medical Group | Updated on: December 6, 2022
If you’ve ever been to the doctor, you’ve probably heard them mention your blood pressure. But what is it? And why is it important to know about? Let’s break down the basics of high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.
What is High Blood Pressure or Hypertension?
High blood pressure (hypertension) occurs when the force of your blood against the artery walls gets too high. This happens when your heart pumps out more blood than needed and/or your arteries become narrow. A normal reading for an adult is 120/80 mmHg. In other words, a systolic reading (top number) of 120 and diastolic reading (bottom number) of 80mmHg or lower indicates healthy blood pressure levels. Anything higher than this means you have hypertension.
How do I analyze blood pressure readings?
First, systolic blood pressure is the measure of the force or pressure the heart exerts on the artery walls every beat. Second, diastolic blood pressure is the measure of the force or pressure while the heart is at rest between every beat.
For instance, blood pressure readings for a 65 year old male:
- 130/80 mm Hg
Breaking down the example above, the number 130 is the systolic blood pressure and 80 is the diastolic blood pressure. “mm Hg” stands for units of millimeters of mercury, which is used to measure the pressure in your circulatory system.
How do I measure my blood pressure?
There are three ways to get checked:
- At your designated doctor’s office or primary care physician.
- An at-home blood pressure monitor (arm cuff or wrist).
- Pharmacies have blood pressure machines available for the general public.
What numbers are considered normal blood pressure for my age?
Chart 1. below, displays blood pressure by age, normal readings, minimum and maximum. Factors that may affect your blood pressure during the reading:
- Food or drink you consumed.
- Your body’s position (sitting comfortably in a chair with back supported or placing feet flat on the ground).
Chart 1. The number to the left of the "/" is systolic and to the right of the slash is diastolic.
Chart 2. displays which tier you are currently in. Pre-hypertension stage is diagnosed when the patient has a systolic number of 120-129 mm Hg, and a diastolic number of 80-89 mm Hg.
What happens if I have hypertension?
Am I at risk?
Here are factors that may increase your risk:
- Age – Increasing age results in gradual blood pressure.
- Family History – Your genetics and family history plays a big role when it comes to diseases.
- Weight – Overweight individuals or those affected by obesity have a higher risk of developing the disease.
- Nutritional Diet – Abnormal traces of sodium in the body and low potassium levels can increase the risk.
How to prevent or lower the risks:
- Eating a healthy diet – Eat foods rich in potassium, fiber, and reducing your salt intake.
- Exercise – By being physically active, you can manage your weight, lower stress levels, and strengthen your heart health. It is recommended that the elderly should take a brief walk for 20-30 minutes every day.
- Avoid smoking – Cigarretes and other tobacco products contain a chemical compound called nicotine, which causes your heart to pump faster and narrow the blood vessels.
Best foods to help lower high blood pressure
You may think that the condition can only be treated through medications, luckily, mother nature provides excellent nutrient dense foods that can help. Here is a brief list of foods that can lower or neutralize the blood pressure:
- Dark chocolate
What next steps should I take?
It is highly recommended to receive an annual physical checkup examination from your family care provider for accurate results. Should you feel consistent symptoms of high blood pressure, go to the nearest emergency room or call 911.
Hypertension affects millions of people worldwide every year. It is important to be aware of its causes and various treatments available so that we can take proactive steps towards a healthier lifestyle before it becomes a serious problem. If you suspect that you may be at risk for developing hypertension or are already experiencing symptoms associated with it, make sure to consult with your healthcare provider right away so that they can assess your situation further and provide you with an appropriate treatment plan tailored specifically for you. Remember—your health is always worth taking seriously!
Disclaimer: The following article/blog post contains information about medical information. Posted solely for educational purposes. If you are having trouble breathing or feeling symptoms of unexplained discomfort, visit the nearest emergency room or call 911.