Blood pressure is a measure of how hard the blood pushes against the walls of your arteries as it moves through your body. It’s normal for blood pressure to go up and down throughout the day, but if it stays up, you have high blood pressure. Another name for high blood pressure is hypertension.
Your blood pressure reading is based on two measures. The top number (systolic) is the measure of the pressure when your heart contracts and pushes blood through the arteries. The bottom (diastolic) number is the measure of the pressure when your heart relaxes between beats.
There are three different blood pressure categories:
See your doctor or healthcare provider to get a proper blood pressure measurement and find out which category you are in.
Blood pressure categories
|Low risk||120 / 80|
|Medium risk||121-134 / 80-84|
|High risk||135+ /85+|
You don’t have to embark on a major life overhaul to make a difference in your blood pressure. Here are six simple tips for actions you can take to help get your blood pressure back into the normal range.
By far the most effective means of reducing elevated blood pressure is to lose weight. And it doesn’t require major weight loss to make a difference. Even losing as little as 10 pounds can lower your blood pressure.
We eat far too much dietary sodium, up to three times the recommended total amount, which is 1,500 milligrams (mg) daily for individuals with high blood pressure. It doesn’t take much sodium to reach that 1,500-mg daily cap — just ¾ of a teaspoon of salt. There’s half of that amount of sodium in one Egg McMuffin breakfast sandwich. Weed out high-sodium foods by reading labels carefully.
Stay away from the “SALTY SIX,” common foods where high amounts of sodium may be lurking:
• breads and rolls
• cold cuts and cured meats
It doesn’t take much exercise to make a difference in your health. Aim for a half-hour at least five days a week. Make sure you’re doing something you love, or it won’t stick. For some that means dancing; for others, biking or taking brisk walks with a friend. Even everyday activities such as gardening can help.
Add some weightlifting to your exercise regimen to help lose weight and stay fit. Women lose muscle mass steadily as we age, and weightlifting is an often-overlooked part of an exercise plan for most women.
Drinking too much, too often, can increase your blood pressure, so practice moderation.
Stress hormones constrict your blood vessels and can lead to temporary spikes in blood pressure. In addition, over time, stress can trigger unhealthy habits that put your cardiovascular health at risk. These might include overeating, poor sleep, and misusing drugs and alcohol. For all these reasons, reducing stress should be a priority if you’re looking to lower your blood pressure.