Blood pressure is one of the primary vital signs for health. It refers to the pressure applied to vessel walls by circulating blood in the body. Blood pressure measurements generally gauge total pressure at the brachial artery in an individual’s upper arm which is the major vessel that transports blood away from the heart. The actual blood pressure reading is the systolic pressure over the diastolic pressure, for example, 120/80. The systolic number measures arterial pressure when the heart beats, and the diastolic number measures arterial pressure between heartbeats, when the heart muscle is at rest and filling with blood.
There are five basic categories of blood pressure readings that span from normal blood pressure to hypertensive crisis. The blood pressure measurement determines what type of treatment an individual may need to normalize blood pressure. For accuracy, it is important for a health care provider to take two measurements at two different times.
The American Heart Association suggests that an individual get screened once every two years starting at age 20 if blood pressure is in the normal range.
The following lifestyle changes are recommended for keeping blood pressure in check.
Lose extra weight and watch your waist measurement: According to the Mayo Clinic, men should have a waist measurement below 40 inches, and women should take care to keep waist size below 35 inches.
Get regular exercise: 30 to 60 minutes of exercise per day can help to lower blood pressure.
Eat a healthy diet: Consume whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meats and low-fat dairy products, and skip foods that are high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Consider all-natural supplements to ensure adequate daily nutrients.
Reduce sodium consumption: Those who are 51 years of age or older should reduce sodium to 1500 mg per day or less.
Increase potassium: Added potassium in the diet or through supplements can reduce the effects of sodium on blood pressure.
Experts estimate that one in four American adults will get high blood pressure. This is a health problem that can raise risks for heart and kidney disease and stroke. Because high blood pressure typically exhibits no symptoms, it is important for adults to get checked regularly. Once it develops, high blood pressure generally lasts a lifetime but it can be prevented and controlled with a healthy lifestyle.