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Blood pressure check - CDC/Amanda Mills, 2011Blood 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.
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New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services
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