Blood Pressure - What Do The Numbers Actually Mean?
Have you had your blood pressure taken recently? What did it mean to you? Did anybody explain the numbers or did you just get told its ok, its too low, or its too high?
So what do you do now? Forget about it, yes that is one option, maybe that is ok if you had a healthy blood pressure reading, but if not it may be worth reading on and finding out how you can make a few lifestyle changes which will help you reach that healthy normal blood pressure.
Blood Pressure readings have 2 numbers and they are usually shown one above the other:
The number you can see at the top is known as your Systolic blood pressure, this is the highest pressure and it is when your heart beats and the heart muscle has to work extremely hard to push the blood out and around the body. The bottom number is known as your Diastolic blood pressure, this is your lowest blood pressure and it is when the heart is resting and filling up in between beats, ready to push that blood out again.
So, now you have an idea of what the numbers mean, how do you know if your blood pressure is healthy? Lets take a look at the following readings which suggest low, ideal, high normal and high blood pressure:
90/60 mmHg or less - Low blood pressure: This is also known as hypotension, if your blood pressure is naturally low you will most likely have no symptoms and it is normally nothing to worry about but if it drops too low you may get dizzy or faint as blood flow to your brain and vital organs is restricted. It can be brought on by illness or injury, age or maybe the temperature for example. In order to help reduce any symptoms you should ensure you drink lots of water and hydrate, get up slowly, add more salt to your diet (check out my article on Himalayan rock salt), eat little and often.
90/60 - 120/80 mmHg - A healthy and ideal blood pressure: This is great and you should continue to adopt a healthy lifestyle to keep your blood pressure between this range.
120/80 - 140/90 mmHg - Normal but a little higher than we would like: Adopting some healthy habits to reduce your blood pressure into the healthy and ideal range is a smart idea if your blood pressure is within this range. Some ideas could be to reduce the amount of salt in your diet, increase the amount of fruit and vegetables you eat, keep your weight in check and get more active to ensure you are a healthy weight for your height. Finally, reduce the amount of alcohol you drink and reduce or stop smoking.
140/90 mmHg or more - High blood pressure: This is also known as hypertension, which can lead to a high risk of a heart attack or stroke. There are various reasons for high blood pressure which could be caused by age, being overweight, not eating enough fruit and vegetables, not being physically active enough, drinking too much caffeine or alcohol, smoking or not sleeping well. In order to tackle high blood pressure, addressing your diet, exercising regularly and cutting down on caffeine, alcohol and smoking will all help. You could be recommended medication, but it is wise to address lifestyle habits to help to reduce your blood pressure and adopt a healthy routine so you can continue to stay within the ideal blood pressure bracket.
I hope this has helped a little to uncover the hidden detail behind those two numbers you see flash up on the screen when you have had your blood pressure taken. The rule of thumb is that lifestyle factors can make a huge impact on your overall health, so get the green stuff in your diet and move more! Check out some of my other articles which may help to inspire you.