Understanding your blood pressure

Our blood pressure is simply the force of blood against the walls of the arteries in our bodies. Our blood pressure can rise and fall throughout the day based on the activity level. This is normal. However, when blood pressure stays elevated over time, this defines high blood pressure or “hypertension” which becomes a health concern. The reason why it is dangerous to our health is that it makes the heart work consistently harder contributing to atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. This in turn leads to heart disease and stroke which are leading causes of death among Americans and a number of other related conditions.

Knowing your blood pressure is important and taking action to reduce it if high is crucial to staying healthy and avoiding heart diseases. Here is a short breakdown of the numbers:

A) Below 120 systolic AND below 80 diastolic (120/80): This is normal

B) 120-139 systolic OR 80 to 89 diastolic: This defines pre-hypertension meaning that you don’t have high blood pressure now, but you have a good chance of developing it in the future unless you take positive steps today in terms of nutrition and exercise.

C) 140 or higher systolic OR 90 or higher diastolic: This defines the unhealthy condition of having high blood pressure. It needs to be addressed with your doctor immediately. Blood pressure can be lowered in the short term with medication, but healthy adjustments in diet, exercise and lifestyle can bring pressure down over time naturally.

There are some risk factors that cannot be controlled such as age or a family history of early heart disease. Fortunately, most of the risk factors are controllable such as high blood pressure, use of tobacco, high cholesterol, diabetes, physical inactivity and overweight conditions. Most of these factors can be corrected over time. It certainly requires a discipline and willingness to succeed on the part of the patient. To effect such behavioral changes requires dedication, but avoiding the diseases that are certain to cut one’s life short is a worth-while investment.

At New Horizon, our staff addresses all of the risk factors with patients on a weekly basis.   Bringing risk factors under control and having patients successfully adopt new behaviors which become healthy lifestyle changes is the formula for success. It is a difficult task to achieve alone and many have tried only to end up in frustration. With a team of professionals on your side from week to week, it becomes a very achievable task.  Meeting with counselors, nutritionists and personal trainers on a weekly basis for guidance, encouragement and accountability can be life changing for the patient.

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