Understanding Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is one of the most important measures of your long term health, if not the most important. More than your weight, the range of your blood pressure can give you a quick picture of your health future. In short, blood pressure is the measure of force against your blood vessels, the passages that transport nutrients and keep you alive. It is important to understand blood pressure and what lifestyle choices you can adopt to keep blood pressure in a safe range.

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Measurements of blood pressure are reported as two numbers:

  1. Systolic pressure, or pressure when your heart is beating
  2. Diastolic pressure, or pressure when your heart is at rest
Classification of blood pressure for adults
Category Systolic, mmHg Diastolic, mmHg
< 90
or < 60
90 - 119
and 60 - 79
120 - 139
or 80 - 89
Stage 1 Hypertension
140 - 159
or 90 - 99
Stage 2 Hypertension
≥ 160
or ≥ 100

The Risks of Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
High blood pressure causes damage to your veins and arteries. The repair of damage is never perfect, leaving scars and potential sites for plaque buildup. The result, called Atherosclerosis, is increasingly smaller passages for blood and higher blood pressure, creating a vicious cycle of increasing blood pressure and blood vessel damage.
Image demonstrating the build up of plaque in blood vessels

Via this arterial damage, high blood pressure leads to strokes, heart attacks, heart failure, arterial aneurysm, and chronic renal failure.

What lifestyle choices can I adopt to lower blood pressure?
The first and primary thing you can do is adopt a form of exercise which you can keep. Even light forms are effective at lowering blood pressure and will help you lose weight, which is another way to lower blood pressure. In terms of diet it is best to reduce or eliminate consumption of refined sugars, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and salt. Increasing consumption of fruits, vegetables, and other foods with soluble fiber help to keep your blood vessels clear from plaque build up. Further, methods should be practiced to reduce stress in your everyday life. Activities from taking a walk to meditation can all help to reduce stress and lower blood pressure.

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