What Is High Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls. High blood pressure (HBP) means the pressure in your arteries is higher than it should be. (Also known as hypertension.)

Blood pressure is written as two numbers (120/70 mm Hg). Top or systolic number is the pressure when the heart beats. The bottom or diastolic number is the pressure when the heart rests between beats. Normal blood pressure is below 120/80 mm Hg. For adults with systolic pressure 120 to 139 or diastolic pressure 80 to 89, you have prehypertension. High blood pressure is a pressure of 140 systolic or higher and/or 90 diastolic or higher that stays high over time.

High blood pressure cannot be cured, but it can be managed. HBP usually has no signs or symptoms and that is why it is so dangerous.

1 in 3 adults have HBP; and many are not aware of it. Not treating HBP is dangerous because it increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. You can live a healthier life if you treat and manage HBP.

Who is at risk?

  • People with family histories of HBP
  • African Americans
  • People over 35yrs old
  • Overweight people
  • People who eat too much salt
  • People who drink too much alcohol
  • People with diabetes, gout, or kidney disease
  • Pregnant women
  • Women who take birth control pills, who are overweight, had HBP during a pregnancy, have family history with HBP or have mild kidney disease.

What can HBP lead to?

  • Stroke
  • Heart attack, angina, heart failure
  • Kidney failure
  • Peripheral arterial disease (PAD)

What can I do about it?

  • Lose weight if you are overweight. Talk to a health coach about lifestyle changes.
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, salt and added sugars. Eat a variety of deeply-colored fruits and vegetables, fiber-rich whole grains, low fat or fat-free dairy products; lean meats and skinless poultry; fish with healthy omega-3 fatty acids; and nuts, seeds and legumes. Talk to a dietician about a healthy eating plan.
  • Be more physically active. (Aim for 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise each week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity.) Make an appointment with a Certified Personal Trainer for a safe workout recommendation.
  • Limit alcohol intake.
  • Take medicine as prescribed. Never stop treatment on your own. If you have problems or side effects with your medicine, talk to your physician.

By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.