What is blood pressure?
When your heart beats, it pumps blood round your body to give it the energy and oxygen it needs. As the blood moves, it pushes against the sides of the blood vessels. The strength of this pushing is your blood pressure. If your blood pressure is too high, it puts extra strain on your arteries (and your heart) and this may lead to heart attacks and strokes.
You probably have high blood pressure (hypertension) if your blood pressure readings are consistently 140 over 90, or higher, over a number of weeks.
How high blood pressure damages your body?
The higher your blood pressure, the higher your risk of serious health problems in the future. High blood pressure can affect your body in a number of ways:
- Your heart: high blood pressure can cause you to have a heart attack. It can also cause heart failure.
- Your brain: high blood pressure is a leading cause of strokes. It has also been closely linked to some forms of dementia.
- Your kidneys: high blood pressure can cause kidney disease.
- Your limbs: high blood pressure can cause peripheral arterial disease, which can affect your legs.
If you have other health conditions, such as diabetes or high cholesterol, this increases your risk of health problems even more. It is then even more important to lower your high blood pressure.
What causes high blood pressure?
For most people, there may be no single cause for their high blood pressure. We do not know exactly what causes high blood pressure. We do know that your lifestyle can affect your risk of developing it. You are at a higher risk if:
- You eat too much salt;
- You don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables;
- You are not active enough;
- You are overweight; or
- You drink too much alcohol.
The top number, which is also the higher of the two numbers, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats (when the heart muscle contracts).
The bottom number, which is also the lower of the two numbers, measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats (when the heart muscle is resting between beats and refilling with blood).
Understanding of Blood Pressure Readings: Blood pressure is typically recorded as two numbers, written as a ratio like this:
What is the AHA recommendation for healthy blood pressure?
This chart reflects blood pressure categories defined by the American Heart Association.
mm Hg (upper #)
mm Hg (lower #)
|Normal||less than 120||and||less than 80|
|Prehypertension||120 – 139||or||80 – 89|
|High Blood Pressure
(Hypertension) Stage 1
|140 – 159||or||90 – 99|
|High Blood Pressure
(Hypertension) Stage 2
|160 or higher||or||100 or higher|
(Emergency care needed)
|Higher than 180||or||Higher than 110|
YOU CAN HELP TO LOWER YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE – AND YOUR RISK OF STROKE AND HEART ATTACK – BY MAKING LIFESTYLE CHANGES.
- Lower blood pressure by eating less salt
One of the quickest ways to lower your blood pressure (especially if you have high blood pressure) is to eat less salt.
Salt raises your blood pressure. The more salt you eat, the higher your blood pressure will be.
Salt makes your body retain water. If you eat too much, the extra water stored in your body raises your blood pressure. This can be a particular problem if you have high blood pressure. Also, eating too much salt may mean that blood pressure medicines, such as diuretics, don’t work as well.
How much salt is too much?
An adult should eat no more than 6g of salt a day, but most of us eat much more than this.
Most of the salt we eat every day is “hidden”. Roughly 80% of the salt we eat is hiding in processed foods like bread, biscuits and breakfast cereals, and prepared ready meals or takeaways. Only 20% comes from the salt we add while cooking or at the table.
- Lower blood pressure by eating more fruit and vegetables
Eating more fruit and vegetables has been proven to help lower blood pressure.
Fruit and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals and fibre to keep your body in good condition. They also contain potassium, which helps to balance out the negative effects of salt. This has a direct effect on your blood pressure, helping to lower it.
Eat at least 5 portions a day
To help lower blood pressure, adults should eat at least 5 different portions of fruit and vegetables per day. A portion is 80 grams, or roughly the size of your fist.
The following amounts represent a portion:
- A dessert bowl of salad
- Three heaped tablespoons of vegetables
- Three heaped tablespoons of pulses (chickpeas, lentils, beans and so on)
- One medium-sized fruit (apple, orange, pear or banana)
- Two smaller fruits (plums, apricots, satsumas)
- One slice of a large fruit (melon, pineapple or mango)
- Two to three tablespoons of berries or grapes
- A glass (150ml) of fruit or vegetable juice
- One tablespoon of dried fruit
In Ayurveda there are several herbs that help to managing your blood pressure:
- Xtrong Heart
- Xtrong HB
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