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Healthy Heart – Managing your blood pressure

January 5, 2023
2 minutes

Make smart choices and swaps to build an overall healthy eating style. Watch calories and eat smaller portions.

Blood pressure is typically recorded as two numbers, written as a ratio like this: 117/76. Read as “117 over 76” millimeters of mercury.

  • Systolic: The top number, the higher of the two numbers, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats (when the heart muscle contracts).
  • Diastolic: The bottom number, the lower of the two numbers, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart is resting between heart beats.

Blood Pressure Categories

  • Normal: systolic lower than 120 mm Hg and diastolic lower than 80 mm Hg
  • Elevated Blood Pressure: diastolic 120 to 129 mm Hg and diastolic 80 mm Hg.
  • High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) Stage 1: systolic 130 to 139 mm Hg or diastolic 80 to 89 mm Hg.
  • High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) Stage 2: systolic 140 or higher mm Hg or diastolic 90 or higher mm Hg.
  • Hypertensive Crisis (Call your doctor immediately): systolic higher than 180 mm Hg and/or diastolic higher than 120 mm Hg.

Track Levels

A diagnosis of high blood pressure must be confirmed with a medical professional. A doctor should also evaluate any unusually low blood pressure readings. Health care professionals can take blood pressure readings and provide recommendations.

Tips for Success

  • Eat Smart: Eat a healthy diet of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, plant-based proteins, lean animal proteins like fish and seafood. Limit sugary foods and drinks, red or processed meats, salty foods, refined carbohydrates and highly processed foods.
  • Move More: Physical activity helps control blood pressure, weight and stress levels.
  • Manage Weight: If you’re overweight, even a slight weight loss can reduce high blood pressure.
  • No Nicotine: Every time you smoke, vape or use tobacco, the nicotine can cause a temporary increase in blood pressure.
  • Sleep Well: Short sleep (less than 7 hours) and poor-quality sleep are associated with high blood pressure.

Information provided by the American Heart Association.

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