As one of the most important organs, the human heart provides continuous blood circulation and makes it possible for the rest of your body to perform vital functions. However, certain foods, behaviors and factors can put stress on the heart and make it harder to maintain blood circulation. So...do you know how hard your heart is working?
One way to be sure is to check your blood pressure. A blood pressure test measures just how hard blood is pushing against the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps out blood. If this pressure rises and stays high over time, it can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney failure and other illnesses.
The medical term for high blood pressure is hypertension. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control & Prevention), nearly 75 million people in the United States have high blood pressure. Because high blood pressure has no signs or symptoms, the only way to know for certain if you have it is to get tested.
Testing your blood pressure is very simple, painless and takes little time! To test your blood pressure, your health care provider will either use a blood pressure machine or put a cuff around your upper arm and pump the cuff until it feels tight. Both methods take less than one minute and can provide you with immediate results.
What Do the Numbers Mean?
The results of blood pressure test will give you two numbers. The first number is a systolic (sis-TOL-ik) number followed by the diastolic (di-a-STOL-ik) number.
The systolic number is the pressure when the heart beats while pumping blood. The diastolic number is the pressure when the heart is at rest between beats. For example, for a blood pressure reading of 120/80, 120 is the systolic number and 80 is the diastolic number.
What is Normal?
The chart below shows normal, pre-hypertension and hypertension/high blood pressure levels. For more information on your specific blood pressure reading, please be sure to consult with your doctor or primary health care provider.
Are You at Risk?
Although high blood pressure has no signs or symptoms, you may be at risk if you:
- Are Overweight
- Have a family history of high blood pressure
- Consume foods high in salt
- Don’t Exercise
- Consume heavy amounts of alcohol
What Can I Do to Lower My Risk?
The great news is that by being proactive, you can take control of your health and, ultimately, lower your risk of having high blood pressure. Below are some great tips to help you get started:
- Know your blood pressure, have it checked at least once a year
- Include at least 30 minutes of exercise in your daily routine
- If you smoke, stop
- If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation
- Eat a low-salt diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables and low-dairy fat
To learn more about how you can control or lower your blood pressure, please click on these helpful links below:
CDC (Center for Disease Control & Prevention)