It may seem basic, but understanding blood pressure readings and gaining a better understanding of what these numbers mean can set you up to make healthy lifestyle choices for life.
Blood pressure is the measure of the force of the blood flowing through your veins. When your heart beats, it creates pressure that pushes blood throughout your body through blood vessels (including arteries, capillaries and veins.) Your body needs this oxygenated blood to function properly and to survive. This pressure is measured in two forces and these numbers create the two numbers in your blood pressure reading.
Know your numbers!
The American Heart Association has a great chart listing each blood pressure category and its respective ranges. These ranges can change and it is important to speak with your doctor about your numbers and learn how to check and keep a record of your blood pressure at home.
What are the risks?
The tissue in your blood vessels is fragile and the constant increased pressure from hypertension damages the arteries and creates tiny tears. The reason hypertension and high cholesterol are often linked is because LDL (bad) cholesterol builds in these tiny tears in the artery walls. The more the damage increases, and plaque builds, the smaller the arteries become causing an increased risk of other conditions such as heart attack, stroke and arrhythmia.
American Heart Association’s Common Hypertension Myths:
Myth: High blood pressure runs in my family, so I cannot prevent it.
Myth: I don’t use table salt, so I don’t have to worry about my sodium intake.
Myth: I feel fine, so I have no reason to worry.
Myth: My doctor checks my blood pressure, so there’s no reason for me to check it myself.
Remember that high blood pressure can be a lifelong disease and monitoring your numbers, making healthy lifestyle changes and taking your medication as prescribed can help you reach your treatment goals and allow you to enjoy a healthy life.
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