Blood is carried from the heart to all parts of our body in vessels which are known as arteries. Blood pressure is the force exerted by the blood on the walls of the arteries. With each of our heart beat, the heart pumps the blood into the arteries and the blood pressure is at its highest. This is called systolic pressure. When the heart is at rest, between beats, the blood pressure falls. This is what diastolic pressure is.
Blood pressure is always denoted by these systolic and diastolic pressures such as 120/80 mmHg. The top number is the systolic and the bottom one is diastolic. Both are important. These levels should be lower than 120/80. When the level stays high, 140/90 or higher, you have high blood pressure.
Blood pressure is lowest when you sleep and rises when you get up. It may rise when you are excited, nervous or extra-active.
With high blood pressure, the heart works harder, your chances of a stroke, heart attack, and kidney problems are greater
High blood pressure is also called the “silent killer” because it usually has no symptoms. If not controlled over time, high blood pressure can affect not only your heart and blood vessels but also other organs.
• Normal blood pressure is <120 mm of Hg systolic and < 80 mm of Hg diastolic
• Pre-hypertension is <120-139 mm of Hg systolic and < 80-89 mm of Hg diastolic
• Stage 1 hypertension is 140-159 mm of Hg systolic and 90-99 mm of Hg diastolic
• Stage 2 hypertension is =/>160 mm of Hg systolic and =/>100 mm of Hg diastolic
The World Health Organization says that "ideally blood pressure should not be greater than 115/75 mm of Hg.
You have a higher chance of having high blood pressure if
• If someone in your family has or has had high blood pressure
• If you are overweight
• If you have fat around your stomach more than around the hips
• High blood pressure is often a prediabetic state.
Simple steps to keep your blood pressure under control
Brisk Walking— Walking at a brisk pace can help lower your pressure. A good workout will ensure the heart uses oxygen more efficiently. Getting a rigorous cardio workout 4 to 5 times a week can make a huge difference. Start by incorporating about 15 minutes of exercise in your daily routine and slowly increase the time and difficulty level.
Deep Breathing — Learning some slow breathing and meditation techniques can do wonders. It will help reduce stress drastically and keep your blood pressure in check. Try taking out 10 minutes every morning and at night. Inhale and exhale deeply. If you can, join a yoga class for some time so that you can learn the proper method.
Go for potassium-rich foods — you have probably heard of the negative effects of sodium on the body and potassium is an essential mineral to counter the effects of sodium on blood pressure. Fruits and vegetables are rich in potassium. Try adding sweet potatoes, tomatoes, orange juice, potatoes, bananas, peas, and prunes and raisins to your regular diet.
Go slow on the salt — Whether you have a family history of high blood pressure or not, reducing your intake of salt can make a huge difference to your health. Before adding that extra pinch of salt to your food, think if you really need it. Try substituting salt with lime, garlic, pepper or other herbs and spices. Go slow on processed and packaged foods.
Tea benefits — Herbal teas are the way to go. In a study conducted, those who sipped on hibiscus tea daily lowered their blood pressure. Many herbal teas contain hibiscus or you can always opt for green tea.
Reduce work and relax — Reducing the number of hours you spend in office can help lower hypertension. Working overtime makes it hard to exercise and eat healthy. Ensure that you get out of office at a decent hour. Learning to relax by listening to soothing music can help.
(Based on various reference works from different websites)