Hello. This is Hypertension Prevention Tuesdays! Let’s talk about Blood Pressure Chart Readings. High blood pressure increases the risk for heart disease and stroke, two leading causes of death for Americans. High blood pressure is also very common. Tens of millions of adults in the United States have high blood pressure, and many do not have it under control. High blood pressure should be treated earlier with lifestyle changes and in some patients with medication – at 130/80 mm Hg rather than 140/90.
It’s important to manage your blood pressure:
- Hypertension, or blood pressure that’s too high, can put you at risk for heart disease, vision loss, kidney failure, and stroke.
- Hypotension, or blood pressure that’s too low, can cause serious side effects, such as dizziness or fainting. Severely low blood pressure can damage organs by depriving them of blood flow and oxygen.
High blood pressure or hypertension, usually has no symptoms and in many cases, is caught when the damage is already done. It is a chronic condition, which must be managed on a daily basis throughout your life. The only way to know if you have it is to get your blood pressure measured. You need to know your blood pressure ranges, what is healthy for you, and learn ways to avoid high blood pressure, as well as low blood pressure. Talk with your health care team about how you can manage your blood pressure and lower your risk.
A high blood pressure chart is a tool that can show you high and low blood pressure ranges. If you have never bothered about charts for blood pressure, perhaps it is time you did. Ultimately, high blood pressure should be avoided for better health.
How to Read a Blood Pressure Chart
On a blood pressure chart, readings will be categorized into normal, elevated, stage 1 and 2, and hypertensive crisis. The chart can act as a guide to help people change their lifestyle.
Systolic blood pressure is the top number in a reading. It measures the pressure on blood vessels as your heart squeezes blood out to your body.
- Normal: Below 120
- Elevated: 120-129
- Stage 1 high blood pressure (also called hypertension): 130-139
- Stage 2 hypertension: 140 or more
- Hypertensive crisis: 180 or more. Call 911.
Diastolic blood pressure is the bottom number in a reading. It measures the pressure on blood vessels in between heart beats, while your heart fills up with blood returning from your body.
This is what your diastolic blood pressure number means:
- Normal: Lower than 80
- Stage 1 hypertension: 80-89
- Stage 2 hypertension: 90 or more
- Hypertensive crisis: 120 or more. Call 911.
The chart below has more details.
Even if your diastolic number is normal (lower than 80), you can have elevated blood pressure if the systolic reading is 120-129.
Where can I get my blood pressure checked?
You can get your blood pressure measured:
- By a health care team member at a doctor’s office.
- At a pharmacy that has a digital blood pressure measurement machine.
- With a home blood pressure monitor that you can use yourself.
How can I measure my blood pressure at home?
A good way to manage your blood pressure is to take your own blood pressure readings at home using a blood pressure monitor. You can record your reading on a blog pressure chart or log. It can show what your levels of blood pressure are, which can help you manage your condition.
Talk with your health care team about regularly measuring your blood pressure at home, also called self-measured blood pressure (SMBP) monitoring.
SMBP means you regularly use a personal blood pressure measurement device away from a doctor’s office or hospital—usually at home. These blood pressure monitors are easy and safe to use. A health care team member can show you how to use one if you need help.
Evidence shows that people with high blood pressure are more likely to lower their blood pressure if they use SMBP combined with support from their health care team than if they don’t use SMBP.
Learn about the proper way to measure your blood pressure and things that can affect your blood pressure reading.
How often should I measure my blood pressure?
Talk with your health care team about how often you should have your blood pressure measured or when to measure it yourself. People who have high blood pressure may need to measure their blood pressure more often than people who do not have high blood pressure.
What should I do if my blood pressure numbers are high?
If you are concerned about your blood pressure numbers, talk to your health care team. They can help you make a plan to manage high blood pressure.
No matter your age, you also can take steps each day to help keep your blood pressure in a healthy range.
People’s blood pressure is partially due to factors they cannot control, such as:
- family history
- chronic kidney disease
However, there are also many steps a person can take to prevent high blood pressure. These include:
- eating a healthful diet that includes fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates
- exercising regularly, particularly cardio workouts, such as walking, cycling, or running
- not smoking
- limiting alcohol consumption
- restricting consumption of processed foods
- limiting sodium intake to less than 2 grams daily
- treating sleep apnea
- managing and regulating diabetes
- reducing weight if overweight
- taking steps to reduce stress
Adopting a healthy lifestyle is the best way to control blood pressure. For those who are hypertensive, there are medications available. Most people, especially those with severe cases, will need medication for the rest of their lives. It is also important to make regular visits to your doctor.
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I’m excited to talk about this topic today because not only do I truly believe that you have the power to reverse heart disease and lower high blood pressure to improve your health, but the science also agrees! You can adopt healthy lifestyle practices that improve your health and enrich your life, which can in turn improve the lives of those close to you. You have the power to break the cycle of these chronic diseases so that you can leave a legacy of health to your loved ones.
As you may already know, I use lifestyle medicine as the first line of treatment, before medications, to treat lifestyle-related chronic diseases. Lifestyle-related chronic diseases include diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and some cancers, just to name a few. Lifestyle practices, such as eating a whole-food plant-based diet and regular physical activity, can help you improve blood pressure and reverse heart disease. In certain cases, these approaches may even outperform pharmaceutical therapy. But I always tell my patients that conventional medications may be appropriate at this time to prevent catastrophic illness, but over time, you can work to make the necessary lifestyle changes to possibly reduce and/or eliminate medications. Please remember to always consult your physician for your particular needs and circumstances prior to making any decisions whatsoever.
Tools to Improve Heart Health
Blood Pressure Monitoring
Since weight management is very important in blood pressure control, I recommend that you be mindful of your weight and its fluctuations, and that you monitor your weight AT LEAST on a weekly basis. I recommend a scale that includes a body composition monitor.
Remember, healthy lifestyle behaviors–like eating a whole-foods plant-based diet that is low in sodium, being physically active, and stress management are the best ways to prevent and control high blood pressure. Please talk with your doctor about any complementary health approaches, including supplements, you use.
Let me know what you think in the comment section below.
PS. I am always asked what tools and resources I recommend to help you reach YOUR health goals. Here is the ever-growing, always updated list for you.
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