May 17, 2018 is World Hypertension Day, a part of May Measurement Month. When it comes to hypertension (high blood pressure), awareness goes a long way. A big part of preventing stroke and heart disease, for example, is simply being aware of your blood pressure. That’s why this year’s theme is “Know Your Numbers.”
#1) 120 over 80 is a normal blood pressure
A blood pressure of less than 120mmHG for the systolic (the higher number), and less than 80mmHG for the diastolic (lower number), is considered a normal blood pressure.
Hypertension stage 1
Hypertension stage 2
See your doctor right away
#2) 130 over 80 is now considered “stage 1” hypertension
In 2017 a group of health organizations including the American College of Cardiology lowered the numbers for what’s considered hypertension to 130/80.
#3) 6 ways to lower blood pressure
If your blood pressure falls into the elevated, stage 1 or stage 2 ranges, there are things you can do to help lower it.
- Get expert advice from your doctor to help you understand your results
- Lower salt/sodium to prevent excess fluid in the blood, which strains blood vessels
- Eat more fruits and veggies—particularly potassium-rich ones—to balance out sodium in the blood
- Exercise – it makes the heart stronger, putting less strain on blood vessels
- Quit smoking—the carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke damages blood vessel linings
- Monitor your blood pressure at home
#4) 3 things to consider when choosing a home blood pressure monitor
Considerations include style, features and wireless capabilities.
- Style. Upper arm monitors are similar to those used in a doctor’s office. Wrist monitors are especially portable.
- Features. Options range from simple ease of use to high-tech sophistication. One-touch monitors give a quick and easy-to-read result. Other monitors offer more features like built-in memory, which allows you to store your readings for a bigger long-term picture.
- Wireless/Bluetooth®. Some monitors sync with a smartphone letting you store, chart and share your results easily.
#5) 5 things to know about checking your blood pressure at home
Tips from the American Heart Association:
- Relax! Avoid caffeine or exercise 30 minutes before taking your BP.
- Sit correctly. Sit with your back straight and supported. Keep your feet flat and avoid crossing your legs, and support your arms on a flat surface with your upper arm at the level of your heart.
- Measure at the same time every day. Try morning and evening, or both.
- Take more than one reading and record the results. Take two or three readings, one minute apart each time. See #4 when you consider how to store and share your results.
- Don’t take the measurement over thick or tight-fitting clothes. This one is simple.
#6) 90 days
It isn’t too late to join individuals, families and health influencers and take the 90 Day Blood Pressure Challenge. The challenge starts with checking your blood pressure every day, which can also be a starting point for other healthy habits.
When it comes to heart attacks and strokes, zero is one of our favorite numbers. Going for Zero™ is a philosophy, a movement and a pledge to strive for zero heart attacks and strokes worldwide. One place to start is with monitoring and managing your own blood pressure, then go from there.
High blood pressure is a serious health problem. The good news is that hypertension can be managed by lifestyle changes and healthy habits. The easiest habit is one you can do sitting down, and that’s knowing your numbers.