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Understanding Your Blood Pressure Readings

Blood pressure numbers of less than 120/80 are considered to be in the normal range, and usually can be maintained with heart-healthy habits, proper diet, and exercise. Those experiencing elevated blood pressure are at risk for developing chronic high blood pressure and the probability of adding medications to their daily routine to control the condition.

But what do the numbers mean and which is more important? The systolic blood pressure is the first number that indicates the amount of pressure on the artery walls with every heartbeat. The diastolic blood pressure number reflects the pressure on the artery walls when your heart is resting between beats. A systolic number that is elevated creates an increased chance for cardiovascular disease in those over the age of 50. Most people see an increase in their systolic number with age as plaque buildup increases in the arteries.  When either number is elevated or out of range, you can be considered a patient with high blood pressure.

There are multiple risk factors that can be controlled to avoid high blood pressure:  quit smoking, control your diabetes, maintain a healthy weight, lower your cholesterol, eliminate unhealthy foods, and be more active.  There are some factors that can not be controlled such as family history, ethnicity, age, patients with chronic kidney disease, and sleep apnea.  However, with a reduction in the controllable risk factors, great strides can be made to maintain normal blood pressure and improve your life.

Prevent High Blood Pressure with Little Changes

Little changes can make a BIG difference.

High blood pressure is a constant abnormal elevation of the pressure within the arteries which deliver blood to the entire body. Those suffering from high blood pressure need to be treated as it can lead to kidney failure, heart attacks, heart failure, stroke, and blindness.
To help prevent high blood pressure, it is important to limit the amount of salt or sodium in your diet.
Here are a few ways to help prevent high sodium intake from St. Joseph’s Healthcare:
1. Take the salt shaker off of the table. Try seasoning foods with herbs, spices and
lemon juice instead.
2. Do not use salt in cooking.
3. Replace onion, garlic, and celery salt with the fresh product or powder.
4. Eat at fast food restaurants less often.
5. Eat less cured and processed meats:
  • Ham
  • Sausage
  • Bacon
  • Hot dogs
  • Bologna
  • Salami
  • Pepperoni
6. Eat less processed or convenience foods that are high in salt or sodium:
  • Canned soups
  • Spaghetti or tomato sauce
  • Processed cheese
  • Soy sauce
  • Pickles 
Reducing your sodium intake is key for not only to control your blood pressure, but for overall vascular health.