High Blood Pressure
High Blood Pressure, also known as hypertension, is a very common condition, and contributes greatly to the risk of heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States, and stroke is the third most common, making the control of high blood pressure a priority health care issue. One in every four American adults has high blood pressure to some degree, and it often can get quite severe without presenting any obvious symptoms. This points out the need to have your blood pressure checked regularly, and taking steps to prevent high blood pressure from occurring. Blood pressure is measured using a blood pressure monitor, also known as a sphygmomanometer. This device takes two readings, measured in millimeters of mercury, or mmHg: Your systolic blood pressure is the highest pressure reading, measured as your heart contracts to pump blood through your system. The diastolic pressure is the lowest reading, measured as your heart relaxes. These readings are displayed like a fraction, with the systolic over the diastolic. A reading of less than 140/90 is considered normal, although it is considered optimal to be below 120/80. Higher readings are classified in progressively serious stages. Stage 3 Hypertension, above 180/110, is the most serious. There are several proven steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure, or to lower your blood pressure if it measures too high. First, maintain a healthy weight: overweight people are six times more likely to develop HBP. Second, lead a more active lifestyle: active people have 20-50% of the risk of HBP as sedentary people. Third, control your intake of sodium (salt). The recommended daily intake of sodium for adults is 2400 milligrams per day; the average American diet contains 4,000 – 6,000 milligrams per day! Additionally, don’t smoke, and limit your intake of alcoholic beverages and caffeine.