Seeing a high blood pressure (BP) number can be worrying but getting overly stressed about it is only going to make things worse. And yes, we realize telling someone who’s worried to “relax” isn’t exactly helpful! So we’ll let these insights and tips do the talking, so you can truly start to relax.
Hypertension Or Just Elevated BP? The Two Numbers That Matter
The blood coursing through your body exerts some pressure on your blood vessels. But when this pressure is abnormally high, you have high BP or hypertension. And the numbers that dictate this are called systolic and diastolic pressure.
- The systolic number records your BP when the heart contracts.
- The diastolic number marks the pressure between beats as your heart relaxes.
Together, these numbers are an indicator of how healthy your BP is. While many everyday niggles may cause your BP to rise occasionally, a consistently high reading over 3 or 4 instances needs to be flagged.
Here’s how BP readings are usually categorized*:
*Source: Diagnosis of blood pressure, Mayo Clinic
Work at getting your numbers in the green range and you have a clean chit! But remember, even if one of your BP readings is high and the other is low, it’s still a red flag. Find out why here.
Watch Out! Uncontrolled BP Equals These Complications
If your BP is elevated and left unchecked, it can put undue strain on your blood vessels and your heart. This raises your risk of heart attack, stroke, and heart failure. But high BP does not only affect your cardiovascular health. Unfortunately, it can do damage to your kidneys, brain, eyes and even impair sexual function.
⚠ Often, people don’t experience any symptoms at all until the BP is really high and life-threatening, so periodic checks are vital. Find out more about complications from hypertension.
“Why Me?”: The Avoidable (and Unavoidable) Causes of Hypertension
Certain factors can bump up your risk of having elevated BP – the good news is many of these are controllable.
Battling High BP: Tips To Bring Down The Pressure
If your numbers are higher than normal, you can take some simple steps to fix the issue.
- Lose weight if you are obese or overweight. On average, 1 kg lost equals a 1 mm Hg dip in your BP!
- Get active – just 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day can reduce BP by 5 to 8 mm Hg.
- Eat healthy. Try the DASH or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension plan.
- Cut sodium intake to 1,500 mg a day or less.
- Drink alcohol in moderation.
- Reduce caffeine intake.
- Quit smoking.
- Manage stress better. Try relaxation techniques, meditation, or yoga.
Find out more about home remedies and lifestyle changes to lower your blood pressure.
Depending on the severity of the problem and your general health condition, your doctor may also prescribe some BP-lowering medication to take alongside.
I’m ready to beat hypertension. Tell me more!