Everything You Need to Know About Blood Pressure
All day long, your heart is hard at work pumping blood through your arteries to provide your organs with the nutrients they need to function. This force of blood pumping through your body is commonly known as blood pressure. So, what is blood pressure and why is it so important to regulate?
Blood Pressure 101You may have noticed that your blood pressure is recorded as two numbers: systolic pressure over diastolic pressure, which are both measured in millimeters.
- Systolic blood pressure – Measures the pressure in the arteries as your heart beats (or contracts). This is the higher of the two numbers because the pressure within your arteries is much higher when your heart is contracting.
- Diastolic blood pressure – Refers to the amount of pressure present in the arteries when your heart is relaxed (or expanded). The blood presses less forcefully against the vessel walls when the heart is in this state, so your diastolic blood pressure is always the lower of the two numbers.
Why your blood pressure matters
According to the American Heart Association, high blood pressure (also known as hypertension) is often called “the silent killer” because it rarely has any symptoms. Hypertension can be damaging to your arteries, heart and other organs. The higher your blood pressure is, the higher your risk of heart disease, kidney failure and other blood-vessel disorders.
Below is a chart created by the American Heart Association that reflects the blood pressure categories.
While hypertension is a condition that relies partially on genetics, there are several factors that you can start taking control of TODAY to manage your blood pressure. In addition to managing your weight, getting plenty of exercise, eating a balanced diet (rich in plant-based foods) and cutting out tobacco products; below is what you should focus on.
Please consult your health care professional before making any drastic changes to your diet, especially if you suffer with any chronic ailments or have health concerns that involve diet restrictions.
- Your sodium intake – Limit sodium to 2,300 milligrams (mg) a day or less, so reading over food labels before you sit down to eat is crucial.
- Your alcohol intake – This one is tricky; alcohol in small amounts can actually lower your blood pressure. However, excessive alcohol consumption not only raises your blood pressure significantly, but it also decreases the effectiveness of blood pressure medications.
- Your caffeine intake – Caffeine affects every body differently, but it has been correlated to temporarily causing a spike in blood pressure.
- Your stress levels – Like caffeine, stress and anxiety are also associated with temporary spikes in blood pressure so it is important to always manage your stress.
If you have been diagnosed with hypertension, be sure to take your medications as instructed by your doctor. If you need help affording your medications, download a free Watertree Health Prescription Discount Card, request a card be mailed to you, or text CARD to 95577. All brand name and generic medications are eligible for savings with our card–including those for hypertension.
For more information on managing your blood pressure, visit: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/.
Instructions and Disclaimer: The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health.
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