Doctors often provide the same answer universally when they are asked, “What is normal blood pressure?” According to most, the preferred average is 120/80, though some will say that anything up to 140/90 is considered within the normal range and is no need for alarm.
Measuring Blood Pressure: Systolic and Diastolic Numbers
Blood pressure is measured in two numbers, one ‘over’ the other. The first is the systolic reading, or the amount of pressure exerted when the heart muscle contracts. The second is the diastolic reading, or the amount of pressure exerted when the heart muscle relaxes. These two numbers combined can tell a doctor a lot about an individual’s health. In some cases, it may be necessary to make dietary changes in order to bring those numbers back into the normal range. In others, medications or supplements may be necessary to control it.
Understand the Risks of High Blood Pressure
After discovering what is normal blood pressure and what is not, it is important to then assess individual risk factors for high blood pressure. Some people believe that they are not at risk unless they are overweight, of a certain age, or eat a certain diet. This is not the case, anyone can develop high blood pressure at any age or stage of his or her life. Scientists and physicians have also found that some people are predisposed to hypertension genetically, and may fall victim to it no matter how healthy their lifestyles are. Everyone should check his or her blood pressure from time to time, and seek medical attention if it is consistently higher than 120/80.
Lifestyle Changes to Lower Blood Pressure
For those who have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, there are some lifestyle changes that can be made in order to help bring these numbers to healthy levels. It is important to avoid consuming salt or alcoholic beverages in excess, because they can cause blood pressure to increase significantly. Those who are overweight are at a higher risk, so it is important to implement healthy eating patterns and exercise routines. People living sedentary lifestyles should incorporate exercise into their routines. Cardio workouts such as aerobics are great choices, because they improve the condition of the heart muscle, leading to better blood pressure numbers.
Getting Tested for High Blood Pressure
Standalone pharmacies and even the pharmacy departments of larger stores often provide kiosks that can be used free of charge. In fact, individuals can even forego the traditional sphygmomanometer that is used in hospitals and doctors’ offices, and opt for an automatic one instead. These can often be purchased for as little as $20 in any location where medical supplies are sold. There is also the old-fashioned test, which is comprised of listening to the blood flow with a stethoscope . This is part of an annual physical exam.
Medication to Lower Blood Pressure
Sometimes, lifestyle changes alone are not enough to reduce blood pressure levels to normal. High blood pressure over a long period of time can do serious damage to not only the heart, but also to blood vessels. It increases the risk of heart attack and stroke, both of which can be fatal. In these cases, it may be necessary to take supplements or medication to decrease elevated blood pressure levels.