Detect – Protect – Correct: Understanding Your Blood Pressure
Thursday, December 2, 2021
High blood pressure. It’s so common that nearly half of adults in the U.S. live with it. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is the main risk factor for stroke and can contribute to other health problems like chronic kidney disease, heart attack and heart failure.
You usually don’t have symptoms from high blood pressure until it has caused serious health problems. That’s why it’s important to have it checked regularly. Early diagnosis and simple, healthy changes can keep high blood pressure from seriously damaging your health.
Normal blood flow delivers nutrients and oxygen to all parts of your body, including your heart, brain and kidneys.
High blood pressure develops when blood flows through your arteries at higher-than-normal pressures. If you have consistently high blood pressure readings, your doctor will diagnosis you with high blood pressure.
The top number – systolic pressure – is the pressure in your blood vessels as the heart beats when the ventricles pump blood out of the heart.
Your beating heart helps to push blood through the massive network of blood vessels, both large and small. Your blood vessels constantly adjust. They become narrower or wider to maintain your blood pressure and keep blood flowing at a healthy rate.
The bottom number – diastolic pressure – is the pressure between heartbeats, when the heart relaxes and is filling with blood.
It’s normal for your blood pressure to go up and down throughout the day. Blood pressure is affected by factors such as time of day, exercise, the foods you eat and stress. For most adults, a healthy blood pressure is 120/80.
High blood pressure can often be prevented or treated with lifestyle changes, medications or a combination of both. It helps to understand your blood pressure reading, so you can understand the importance of keeping those numbers in-check.