May was blood pressure month, however blood pressure health is something to be aware of all year round. High blood pressure, also known as the “silent killer” affects 1 in 3 adults. It can lead to heart disease and stroke if not diagnosed.  The reason it is not always diagnosed is because there usually aren’t symptoms, so people go untreated until it’s too late. 

A healthy blood pressure is anything less than 120/80. The top number is the systolic pressure or the pressure created by each heartbeat. The bottom number is the diastolic blood pressure or the pressure between heartbeats when the heart is resting. 

 

 

 

 

 

You may hear the terms high blood pressure and/or hypertension, but what exactly are they and why is having a normal blood pressure healthy? First a very simple biology lesson: your heart pumps blood through all your arteries throughout your body. This is essential to living. Blood pressure is the force of the blood on the artery walls. The easiest analogy is a garden hose. If you restrict some of the flow from the nozzle, you’re not going to get as much water, but you turn up the water to get more pressure. That’s what happens to the arteries. If arteries constrict, it takes more pressure from the heart to pump the blood through the entire body. That’s high blood pressure. 

      Under Pressure

Chances of high blood pressure increase with age, but there are certain lifestyle factors that may lead to high blood pressure:

 

  • High sodium, high salt diet.
  • Lack of exercise
  • Stress
  • Using tobacco
  • Excess use of alcohol
  • Not enough potassium
  • Being overweight
  • Genetic component

Here are some ways to prevent high blood or stop it before it gets out of hand:

 

  • Make sure you check your blood pressure regularly. Have your doctor do it during check-ups. Some pharmacies even have machines where you can check it.
  • Avoid salt, especially processed foods. You would be surprised where sodium hides in foods.
  • Exercise
  • Following the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. This approach focuses on eating lots of fruits and vegetables, low fat dairy and whole grains. 

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