Can YOU Check my Blood Pressure?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

     Normal, too high, or too low are words that are most commonly used when someone is taking your blood pressure. But do you really know what those terms mean? Do you know a good blood pressure for you? Do you know which category you are in? If you answered no to any or all of these questions then don’t stop here!

     Blood pressure is the measure of the force or pressure exerted by blood on your arteries.  There are two different measures of blood pressure: systolic (the higher number), and diastolic (lower number).  The systolic pressure reflects the force on your arteries when your heart contracts forcing a large volume of blood into your arteries.  The diastolic is the measure of the force on the arteries when the ventricles are relaxed and the heart is filling with blood.

     After many years of evaluating blood pressure readings and seeing what levels are most associated with increased risks, the following national guidelines have been drafted:

1.    Normal: <130/<85
    This is an ideal blood pressure range for all individuals. A reading in this range requires no immediate action. However, checking your blood pressure at your next screening or within 2 years is recommended.

2.    High Normal: 130-139/85-90
    It is recommended that if you have a high normal blood pressure that you get a recheck at your next screening, or in one year. A blood pressure reading in this category is still normal, but it could creep up into the next higher stage more easily than if it were lower.  If lifestyle habits are not what they should be, a slight adjustment in them, at this stage, can be all that is needed to bring blood pressure down into a more “ideal” level.

3.    High (Stage 1):>140/>90
    It is recommended for someone with stage 1 hypertension to go to a physician within 2 months to confirm the reading.  One blood pressure reading in this stage does not necessarily mean that you have high blood pressure or hypertension.  Blood pressure can be temporarily elevated by anxiety, caffeine, exercise, or a number of other sources.  Monitor your blood pressure regularly in this stage, and if it is consistently elevated, see your doctor.  

4.    High (Stage 2): 160-179/100-109
    The plan of action recommended during this stage is to get a source of care within 1 month.

5.    High (Stage 3): 180-209/110-119
    Plan of action recommended for a person in this
category is to get to a source of care within 1 week of your reading.

6.    High (Stage 4): >210/>120
    Get to a source of care immediately!

     You can lower elevated blood pressure by:  exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, getting appropriate sleep and rest, limiting alcohol consumption, avoiding tobacco, raising potassium intake (in the form of plenty of vegetables and fruits), and decreasing sodium intake.  In some cases, medication may be needed to lower chronic high blood pressure.  

     Here at the Bradley Wellness Center we always have dedicated fitness staff available to monitor your blood pressure, personal trainers to help with exercise programming and lifestyle coaching, and a dietician to guide your eating choices.  So if you, or someone you love, are struggling with your health or blood pressure, give us a call at 706-278-WELL.  We’d love to help you!

Submitted by: Haley Long, Intern, Bradley Wellness Center