Blood pressure is the force of your blood pressing against the walls of your arteries. Each time your heart beats, it pumps out blood into the arteries. Your blood pressure is highest when your heart beats, pumping the blood. This is called systolic pressure. When your heart rests between beats, your blood pressure falls. This is called diastolic pressure. Your blood pressure reading uses these two numbers. Usually the systolic number comes before or above the diastolic number:
120/80 (120 over 80) is normal
140/90 (140 over 90) is pre-hypertension
160/100 (160 over 100) is high blood pressure
180/110 (180 over 110) is severe hypertension
An easy way to remember what your numbers should be is by using The Rule of 120: Add up your age and any number associated with it should not exceed 120 systolic OR 180 diastolic. For example, if you're 40 years old, then 120 + 40 = 160. So, according to The Rule of 120, a healthy blood pressure reading for someone who's 40 years old should be lower than 160 systolic AND lower than 180 diastolic.
What is a healthy blood pressure reading?
Your blood pressure is essential to your health. It’s a measure of the force against the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps blood through your body. High blood pressure, also called hypertension, can damage your arteries, and increase your risk for heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease.
A normal reading is 120/80 mm Hg or lower. If your top number (systolic pressure) is between 120 and 129, and your bottom number (diastolic) is under 80, you have elevated blood pressure. High blood pressure is when your systolic number is 130 or higher, or your diastolic number is 80 or higher.
There are things you can do to keep your blood pressure in a healthy range:
-Eat a healthy diet that’s low in salt and fat.
-Limit alcohol consumption.
-Don’t smoke tobacco products.
How can you keep your blood pressure in a normal range?
Your blood pressure reading is made up of two numbers. The first, or top, number is called the systolic pressure. The second, or bottom, number is called the diastolic pressure. Together, these numbers are written as a ratio like this: 120/80 mmHg.
Eat a healthy diet
A diet that's high in fiber, potassium, and protein can help reduce high blood pressure. Potassium helps the body get rid of sodium, which can lead to higher blood pressure. Diets high in protein may help keep your blood pressure from rising as you age. Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. These foods can also help you lose weight if you need to.
Regular exercise is important for maintaining a healthy blood pressure. If you’re already working out regularly, great! Keep it up. If you’re not active, start slowly and gradually increase the amount of time you exercise. A good goal is at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity on most days of the week.
To make sure your blood pressure remains in a normal range, it’s important to keep your heart strong. Exercise helps your heart by making it more efficient at pumping blood and by keeping your arteries clear. It also helps to control your weight and reduce stress, both of which are important for maintaining a healthy blood pressure.
Stress can send your blood pressure soaring. If you have hypertension, managing stress is key to keeping your numbers in a healthy range.
There are lots of ways to do this, but some basic ideas include:
-Exercise: Taking some time out for physical activity can help reduce stress.
-relaxation techniques: Try methods like yoga, deep breathing, or massage to decompress.
-Talk it out: Sharing your feelings with a friend or therapist can help lessen anxiety and tension.
-Limit alcohol: Too much booze can make blood pressure rise. Stick to one or two drinks a day, tops.
Maintain a healthy weight
Carrying too much weight puts extra strain on your heart and blood vessels. Losing even a small amount of weight – 5 to 10 percent of your starting weight – can lower blood pressure readings. To help determine whether you might benefit from weight loss, check your body mass index (BMI). If your BMI is greater than 25, aim to lose about 1 pound (0.5 kg) per week until you reach a healthy weight. To do this, eat fewer calories and increase physical activity.
Smoking narrows your blood vessels and makes your heart work harder. That raises your blood pressure and puts you at greater risk for heart attacks and strokes. If you smoke, quitting is the best way to protect your heart and blood vessels.
Limit alcohol consumption
Moderate alcohol consumption—having up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men—may actually help to lower your blood pressure. But excessive alcohol intake—more than 3 drinks a day for women and more than 4 drinks a day for men—can increase blood pressure.
In addition to lowering blood pressure, moderate alcohol consumption also has other health benefits, such as:
-Reducing your risk of developing heart disease
-Reducing your risk of stroke
-Reducing your risk of developing type 2 diabetes
Monitor your blood pressure regularly
You can check your blood pressure at home with an automatic blood pressure monitor. Home blood pressure monitors are widely available and relatively inexpensive. You can also have your blood pressure checked at a doctor’s office, clinic, or hospital.
If you have high blood pressure, your doctor may recommend that you monitor your blood pressure at home. This can help you and your doctor decide if treatment is working. It may also help you to take fewer readings at the doctor’s office, which can save time and money.
Automatic blood pressure monitors are generally easy to use. You can buy them at most pharmacies and drugstores. Many supermarkets and mass merchandisers also sell them.