Blood Pressure Demands the 3 C's: What is High Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure (BP) measures the force of the blood pushing outwards on the walls of your arteries. It rises with each heartbeat and falls when your heart relaxes between beats. It can change from minute to minute with changes in posture, activity, stress or sleep. It increases with age.
A BP reading consists of two numbers, for example: 120/80 mm Hg.
One number is always larger. The larger number refers to systolic blood pressure, the pressure in the arteries when the heart muscle contracts. The smaller number refers to diastolic blood pressure, the pressure in the arteries when the heart rests between beats and refills with blood. The mm Hg stands for "millimeters of mercury" and refers to the mercury in the blood pressure measuring device, called a sphygmomanometer.
Normal BP is 120/80 mm Hg — less than 120 mm Hg systolic pressure "over" less than 80 mm Hg diastolic pressure for an adult age 20 or over. About one in three U.S. adults has high blood pressure. So the odds are good that you or somebody you know has it. Despite about threequarters of people with high blood pressure being treated for it, only 54 percent have it controlled below 140/90 mm Hg.
A single high reading does not necessarily mean that you have high blood pressure. However, if readings stay at 140/90 mm Hg or above over time, your doctor will likely want you to begin a treatment program. This almost always includes lifestyle changes and often prescription medication.
There are eight main ways you can control your blood pressure. They are:
- Eating a better diet, which may include reducing salt.
- Being physically active.
- Maintaining a healthy weight.
- Managing stress.
- Avoiding tobacco smoke.
- Complying with medication prescriptions.
- If you drink, limiting alcohol.
- Understanding hot tub safety.
Hypertension is a chronic condition. This means it cannot be cured, but it can be controlled. Lifestyle changes may not be enough, in which case your doctor will prescribe medication. It may require multiple prescriptions. Make up your mind to do what is necessary to take care of this.
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