Know Your Numbers, Know Your Risk
Experts now say that high blood pressure occurs at 130/80 rather than 140/90. That means a staggering number of American adults— nearly half—have high blood pressure.
High blood pressure is dangerous because it overworks your heart and hardens your arteries, causing damage that increases your risk for heart disease and kidney failure.
Every adult should know their numbers. You can check your blood pressure yourself at most pharmacies. If it’s high, make it a priority to reduce it with healthy lifestyle habits:
- Maintain a normal weight
- Exercise regularly
- Eat healthy, fresh foods
- Cut back on salt
Your doctor may prescribe medication, in combination with healthy habits, to help reduce high blood pressure.
What Is Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of arteries. It is at its highest when the heart beats, pumping the blood. This is called “systolic pressure.” When the heart is at rest, between beats, your blood pressure falls. This is called “diastolic pressure.”
Blood pressure is always shown as these two numbers, measured per millimeter of mercury (mm/Hg). The top number is the systolic and the bottom number is the diastolic. Blood pressure categories in the new guidelines are:
- Normal: Less than 120/80
- Elevated: Systolic between 120-129 and diastolic less than 80
- Stage 1: Systolic between 130-139 or diastolic between 80-89
- Stage 2: Systolic 140+ or diastolic 90+