Blood pressure is the force of blood against inside walls of your arteries as your heart pumps blood through your body.
Normal blood pressure for an adult is a systolic pressure less than 120 mm/Hg or a diastolic pressure less than 80 mm/Hg.
High blood pressure is a systolic pressure of 140 mm/Hg or higher or a diastolic pressure of 90 mm/Hg or higher. However, for people with diabetes, it is defined as systolic pressure of 130 mm/Hg or higher and diastolic is 80 mm/Hg or higher.
Finally, pre-high blood pressure is a systolic pressure between 120-139 mm/Hg or a diastolic pressure between 80-89 mm/Hg.
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. About one in three adults has high blood pressure according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In New Hampshire, about 29% of the population has high blood pressure, and it affects men more than women.
Risk Factors for High Blood Pressure
Modifiable risk factors for high blood pressure include:
- Too much sodium in the diet
- Excessive caloric intake
- Physical inactivity
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Unhealthy diet – a diet that is high in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, red meats, sweets, and sugared beverages and/or that is low in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts. [1, 2]
Non-modifiable risk factors include:
- Age: It increases with age.
- Race: African Americans have a higher risk .
- Family History: People with positive family history have a higher risk.
Prevention and Management of High Blood Pressure
- Be active. At least 30 minutes of moderate physical activities such as walking or gardening most days of the week.
- Eat a healthy diet. A diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low fat dairy.
- Reduce the amount of sodium in your diet. Most of the sodium we eat comes from processed foods and foods prepared in restaurants.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Diet and exercise can help maintain normal weight in most cases.
- Limit alcohol use.
- Avoid tobacco products. In addition to other health risks, the nicotine in tobacco products can temporary raise your blood pressure
- Manage your diabetes.
- Take your blood pressure medications as directed by your provider.
1. CDC. High Blood Pressure: Risk Factors. 2010 [cited 2012; Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/risk_factors.htm.
2. NIH/NHLBI. Your Guide to Lowering your Blood Pressure with DASH. 2006 [cited 2012 May15]; Available from: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/hbp/dash/new_dash.pdf.
3. CDC. High Cholesterol: Understand Your Risks. 2012 [cited 2012 May 9th]; Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/.
4. Mayo_Clinic. 10 ways to control high blood pressure without medication. 2011 [cited 2011 Dec. 12]; Available from: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/high-blood-pressure/HI00027.