High Blood Pressure
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.
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
What you can do to prevent and help manage your 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.