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Your 2024-2025 Benefits Guide

High Blood Pressure

Get the Facts…to Defeat High Blood Pressure

Get the Facts…to Defeat High Blood Pressure

Your heart is a pump that moves blood through your blood vessels. Blood pressure is the force of the blood against the walls of the vessels—similar to water pressure in a garden hose.

Blood pressure is quick, easy, and painless to measure. A blood pressure cuff is used to measure the pressure in your arteries. Your blood pressure is recorded as two numbers: 120/80 (read “one-twenty over eighty”). Both numbers are important. The systolic pressure (higher number) is the pressure in your arteries during a heartbeat. The diastolic pressure (lower number) is the pressure in your arteries when your heart is relaxing between beats. Blood pressure is measured in units called millimeters of mercury, which is abbreviated as mmHg.

If either one is high, you have the health risk of high blood pressure, even if the other number is in the healthy range. In general, the lower your blood pressure reading, the better. However, people with very low blood pressure may sometimes feel dizzy or tired. These symptoms can be treated by your doctor.

What is High Blood Pressure?

Everyone’s blood pressure rises and falls throughout the day. However, some people have blood pressure that remains high most of the time. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can cause injury to the artery walls leading to scarring and hardening. It can also lead to heart and kidney disease, stroke, and blindness.

Many people have high blood pressure for years and don’t know it. It is often called the “silent killer” because most people feel fine and do not experience symptoms. That’s why it’s so important to know your blood pressure numbers. The only way to detect high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure measured by a health professional.

Blood Pressure Classifications

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, this is how blood pressure levels are classified:

Normal:  Systolic Blood Pressure less than 120 mmHg and Diastolic Blood Pressure less than 80 mmHg This is the healthiest blood pressure range. Individuals with readings in this range should have their blood pressure rechecked at least once every two years.
Prehypertension: Systolic Blood Pressure 120 to 139 mmHg or Diastolic Blood Pressure 80 to 89 mmHg If your blood pressure is in this range, it is more likely that you will end up with high blood pressure unless you take action to prevent it. Make changes in what you eat and drink, be physically active, and lose extra weight. If you also have diabetes, see your doctor.
High Blood Pressure Stage 1 Hypertension:  Systolic Blood Pressure 140 to 159 mmHg or Diastolic Blood Pressure These ranges are high enough to affect your health. If you have consistently high readings, you should talk with your doctor about ways to reduce blood pressure. The risks related to high blood pressure decrease if blood pressure returns to normal.
High Blood Pressure Stage 2 Hypertension:  Systolic Blood Pressure equal to or greater than 160 mmHg or
Diastolic Blood Pressure equal to or greater than 100 mmHg
These ranges are high enough to affect your health. If you have consistently high readings, you should talk with your doctor about ways to reduce blood pressure. The risks related to high blood pressure decrease if blood pressure returns to normal.

If your systolic and diastolic readings fall into two different categories, your blood pressure is considered to be in the higher category. For example, a blood pressure reading of 145/74 is classified as high because the systolic pressure (higher number) is in the high range. Individuals with certain medical conditions such as diabetes or chronic kidney disease, may have different blood pressure goals. Your doctor can help you determine the right blood pressure goal for you.

How Can High Blood Pressure Be Prevented?

Blood pressure tends to rise with age and can run in families. However, following a healthy lifestyle helps some people delay or prevent this rise in blood pressure.

  • Follow a healthy eating plan. This includes limiting the amount of sodium (salt) and alcohol that you consume. An example of a healthy eating plan is the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertensions (DASH). For more information go to https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/dash.
  • Lose weight if you’re overweight or obese – evena small amount can lower your risk.
  • Be physically active – shoot for 30 minutes at least 5 times per week.
  • Be tobacco-free
  • Manage your stress and learn to cope with stress.

Keep track of your blood pressure when you have it measured. “Knowing your numbers” is an important first step.

SmithsLivingWell Resources

To learn more about how you can manage your blood pressure, considering talking with a Health Coach. You can visit www.liveforlife.net/hfit/Smiths and click the My Coach link or call HealthFitness to enroll in coaching at 800-851-5951, Option 2.