Dr Bret Wilson

Blood Pressure and Your Health

Blood Pressure and Your Health

Dr Bret WilsonBlood pressure is a measurement of the work your heart has to do to pump blood through your blood vessels.  It is an indication of the health of your heart, blood vessels and kidneys.  It is always changing based on the demands and condition of these and other systems.  Blood pressure is a silent symptom; there is not a sensation or feeling associated with it.  It is not necessarily predicted by calm or agitated states.  It is a measurable indication of your health and risk factors for disease. 

Normal blood pressure reading for a healthy adult is 120/80 or less.  The top number, systolic pressure is the initial push of the blood from the heart.  Systolic is an indication of the strength of the heart muscle and the relative elasticity or rigidity of the vessels.  The bottom number is the diastolic, an indication of the heart pressure at rest.  

The American Heart Association categorizes blood pressure as normal (< 120/80), pre hypertension (120-139/ 80-89), Stage 1 Hypertension (140-159/90-99) and 2 Hypertension (>160/>100) and Hypertensive Crisis (>180/ >110).  A single high reading does not mean you have hypertension.  Consistent high readings over time in varied situations can lead to a diagnosis of high blood pressure.  Home units are available that are relatively accurate, easy to use and inexpensive.  Monitoring your blood pressure can help you better manage your health.  It can also provide your doctor with more information to make better recommendations.   

Blood pressure will fluctuate and change based on the physical demands, posture, sleep, stress levels and health conditions of the individual.   Measurements tend to rise in adults above 60 years of age.  Blood pressure increases with exercise because of a greater blood supply need.  Alternatively blood pressure lowers at rest. 

Stress can raise blood pressure.  Mental and emotional stress “tricks” your heart into thinking physical demands require an increased pressure.  Stress management techniques such as meditation can lower blood pressure by calming the mind. 

Diet affects blood pressure and your general health.  Too much salt, sugar and additives in food raise blood pressure.  Increased unprocessed fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats and adequate clean water maintain healthy pressure levels.  Research has developed a flexible and balanced eating plan referred to as DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) that can prevent hypertension or help control blood pressure in those being treated. Maintaining a healthy weight helps maintain a healthy blood pressure.  Limit or avoid alcohol consumption.  Limit caffeine, energy drinks, high sugar fruit juices and carbonated beverages.  Increase water consumption.

Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.  Daily physical activity of at least 30 minutes helps lower blood pressure and improves overall health. 

Blood pressure is a measure of your state of health and risk of disease. Abnormal readings over time are an indication of stress or disease of the body.  An indication to review your health habits, consult with your doctor and make necessary changes.  In most cases, early identification of a problem and making appropriate lifestyle changes, can avoid the need to take medication.  These changes can also help people with diagnosed hypertension better control blood pressure and lower risk with less medication.  The lifestyle choices you make will have a positive effect on all aspects of your health. 

Yours in Health,

Dr. Bret Wilson