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About Blood Pressure

Maintaining a healthy blood pressure level is key for living a long healthy life, but how can you maintain something that you know nothing about?

Blood pressure is the force applied to the walls of arteries by blood. At any point in time, there are two varieties of blood pressure; systolic and diastolic. Systolic blood pressure is the measurement of blood pressure when the heart beats, which is when blood pressure is at its highest. Diastolic blood pressure is measured in between beats of the heart, which means the heart is resting and blood pressure is at its lowest.

A blood pressure reading can be obtained by combining the systolic and diastolic results. The systolic pressure is recorded on top of the diastolic pressure, and is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). The following data, provided by the National Institute of Health, depicts typical blood pressure results:

  • 119/79 or lower is normal blood pressure
  • 140/90 or higher is high blood pressure
  • Between 120 and 139 for the top number, or between 80 and 89 for the bottom number is prehypertension

Hypertension

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, occurs when a person's blood pressure measures at 140/90 or higher. The effects of hypertension can be severe, possibly resulting in a stroke, heart attack, and heart or kidney failure. Increased blood pressure can be caused by many different sources, mainly:

  • High blood salinity
  • Poor state of health of kidneys, blood vessels, and nervous system
  • Abnormal hormone levels in the body

Treating High Blood Pressure

According to the National Institute of Health, here are the key ingredients for maintaining a healthy blood pressure level:

  • Eat a heart-healthy diet, including potassium and fiber, and drink plenty of water. See: High blood pressure and diet
  • Exercise regularly -- at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day.
  • If you smoke, quit -- find a program that will help you stop.
  • Limit how much alcohol you drink -- one drink a day for women, two a day for men.
  • Limit the amount of sodium (salt) you eat -- aim for less than 1,500 mg per day.
  • Reduce stress -- try to avoid things that cause you stress. You can also try meditation or yoga.
  • Stay at a healthy body weight -- find a weight-loss program to help you, if you need it.

Your health care provider can help you find programs for losing weight, stopping smoking, and exercising. You can also get a referral from your doctor to a dietitian, who can help you plan a diet that is healthy for you.