test-Do You Know Your Numbers? Find Out Why Blood Pressure Matters.
Health News
Do You Know Your Numbers? Find Out Why Blood Pressure Matters.
Chelsea S. • January 30, 2017

Every time you visit your doctor, someone checks your blood pressure. Do you know what those numbers mean? This is the perfect opportunity to learn!

What Is Blood Pressure?

Simply put, blood pressure is the pressure of the blood in the circulatory system. The force and rate of the heartbeat and the elasticity of the arterial walls can affect your blood pressure.

What’s a Healthy Blood Pressure?

  • The standard for normal, healthy blood pressure is considered 120/80.

What Do the Numbers Mean?

  • The top number (120) is systolic pressure. It represents the peak pressure your blood exerts against artery walls when your heart beats.
  • The bottom number (80) is diastolic pressure. It represents the pressure against artery walls when your heart is at rest between heart beats.

Why Does Blood Pressure Matter?

Blood pressure can indicate the general health of your arteries and circulatory system.

Increased blood pressure can burden your blood vessels, your heart and the rest of the circulatory system as they try to deliver blood to your entire body. But generally, you won’t notice changes in your blood pressure without getting it measured.

A single high or low blood pressure reading does not necessarily indicate a chronic problem. Blood pressure can temporarily fluctuate based on stress levels, what you ate or drank before measuring, whether you exercise and more. However, it’s always best to speak to your doctor about a high reading!

Maintaining a Healthy Blood Pressure

Keeping your arteries elastic and free-flowing will help maintain blood pressure in the normal range. Fortunately, a few lifestyle habits can help you manage your blood pressure.

  • Exercise
    • Any exercise can be a benefit for your circulatory system, whether it’s walking, yoga, weightlifting, bicycling, swimming, soccer with friends, or any other physical activity you enjoy. The US Department of Health and Human Services recommends 30 minutes of daily activity (a total of 150 minutes a week) for adults ages 18-64. Breathe deeply down to the bottom of your lungs during exercise for the best benefits.
  • Diet
    • Fill up on fruits and veggies! Generally, they’re great sources of blood pressure-balancing potassium and magnesium. Avoid excess salt—too much causes water retention and potassium depletion.
  • Throw Out Tobacco
    • Blood pressure is just one of the many reasons to avoid tobacco.
  • Stress Management
    • Managing your stress levels helps you and your blood vessels stay relaxed. Effective stress management activities can vary from person to person. Find what helps you relax, whether it’s a hot bath, exercise, massages or coloring, and make it a regular practice.