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Understanding Your Blood Pressure Readings

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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.

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