National High Blood Pressure Month
When you see your primary care provider, they will take your blood pressure. Represented by two numbers, such as 112/78, the top number, called systolic, is the pressure when your heartbeats. The bottom number, diastolic, is the pressure when your heart rests between beats.
The blood pressure categories are:
Normal (Systolic Less than 120) Diastolic (Less than 80)
Elevated (Systolic 120 – 129) Diastolic (Less than 80)
High Blood Pressure Stage 1 (Systolic 130-139) Diastolic (80-89)
High Blood Pressure Stage 2 (Systolic 140 or higher) Diastolic (90 or higher)
*Ranges may be lower for children/teenagers.
Having high blood pressure can cause damage to your body before you even realize symptoms. Heart attack, stroke, angina, kidney disease/failure, peripheral artery disease (PAD) are just a few of the conditions high blood pressure can cause.
High Blood Pressure Symptoms
Most of the time, there are no symptoms of high blood pressure which is why it is sometimes known as the “silent killer.” Monitoring your blood pressure is the only way to see if it is elevated.
High Blood Pressure Causes
You will be at an increased risk for high blood pressure if you:
- Are overweight
- Have high salt usage and not enough fruits/vegetables
- Do not exercise
- Drink too many caffeine-based drinks or alcohol
- Are over 65 (blood pressure tends to rise with age)
- Have a relative with high blood pressure
- Are of black African/Caribbean descent
How to Control High Blood Pressure
Know your numbers. By doing this, you will be aware if there are any changes and can address changes quicker.
- Adopt a healthy lifestyle. Increase your activity levels, cut back on greasy, fatty foods, and stop using tobacco.
- Manage stress. Sometimes that is easier said than done. When you feel stressed, take deep breaths, listen to music, go for a walk, or talk to a friend.
If you already have high blood pressure, it is vital to prevent it from worsening or causing complications. Visit your health care provider regularly and follow your prescribed treatment plan.
Amber Hill, APRN-CNP
Ryan Family Care