WHAT IS HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE?
Blood pressure is the pressure of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. Arteries carry blood from your heart to other parts of your body. Blood pressure normally rises and falls during the day, but it can cause health problems if it stays too high throughout the day. High blood pressure is also called hypertension.
Blood Pressure is measured using two numbers. The f irst, called Systolic, measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats. The second number, called Diastolic, measures the artery pressure when your heart rests between beats.
Normal systolic pressure is less than 120 mm Hg. and normal diastolic pressure is less than 80 mm Hg. High blood pressure is when these two numbers are 130/80 mm Hg or higher. The higher your blood pressure the more you are at risk for heart disease, heart attacks, strokes and kidney disease.
High blood pressure has no warning signs. The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to measure it.
WHAT ARE SOME RISK FACTORS FOR HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE?
Some medical conditions can increase your risk for high blood pressure, such as Diabetes and being overweight. Other risk factors include:
- Unhealthy Diet: adding too much salt (sodium) to your food; or eating lots of fast foods which are typically are high in sodium.
- Not being physically active: regular exercise can help keep your blood pressure low and manage your weight.
- Alcohol and tobacco: Too much alcohol or smoking can increase your blood pressure.
- Age, family history and ethnicity: as we age the chances of getting high blood pressure increase. A history of high blood pressure in your family increases your risk of high blood pressure. Black people develop high blood pressure more often than white people and people from other ethnic backgrounds.
HOW DO I KNOW I HAVE HIGH PRESSURE AND HOW DO I MANAGE IT?
Before you can manage high blood pressure you have to know you have it. So, an annual visit to you doctor is important so he or she can measure your blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure:
- Change your lifestyle: eat healthy, lose weight, exercise, don’t smoke and limit your use of alcohol.
- If your doctor prescribes medication be sure to take it every day.
- Take your Blood Pressure regularly and write it down so you can bring it with you to your Doctor’s appointments. It helps the doctor to see how well your lifestyle changes and or medication is working
- Always speak with your Doctor about any concerns you have about how your medication makes you feel.