When you go for a check-up, or any medical appointment, a nurse or other medical professional typically takes your blood pressure. The results are a fraction, with the number typically being 120/80 or less. Do you know what those numbers mean and what they reveal about your health? Many people often wonder “what do my blood pressure numbers mean and how can I lower them?” Here’s a brief explanation about what blood pressure readings are and why it’s important to keep yours in a healthy range.
What Is Blood Pressure?
When your heart beats, it contracts and pushes blood through your arteries, which makes your blood pressure go up. Blood pressure is measured in two numbers, which reveal how hard your blood is pushing against the walls of your arteries as it travels through your body. Too much pressure is not good for your body.
What Do Blood Pressure Numbers Mean?
The top number is the amount of pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats, also known as the systolic pressure. Ideally, it should remain below 120 on a regular basis.
To measure your blood pressure, a physician will usually place an arm cuff around your arm and measure your blood pressure using a gauge to determine the two numbers involved.
The bottom number is your diastolic pressure, or the amount of pressure in your blood vessels when your heart rests between beats. This number should stay under 80. Both numbers are important in determining the state of your heart’s health.
Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80. If your blood pressure is 140/90 or higher, it is considered high blood pressure. If your blood pressure is between 120/80 and 140/90, you have what is known as “prehypertension,” which means that if you do not take important steps, your elevated blood pressure can turn into high blood pressure and lead to the many health complications associated with it.
Your blood pressure regularly rises and falls throughout the day and varies during different activities. Having high blood pressure makes your heart work harder than it should. Although you likely cannot feel it, elevated blood pressure can damage your arteries, increasing your chances of developing diseases in many organs.
High blood pressure can have many dangerous consequences. That’s the main reason why high blood pressure is known as ‘the silent killer.’ High blood pressure is also called hypertension.
Nearly half of American adults have high blood pressure. Many are unaware that they have it. The best way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure checked routinely.
High Blood Pressure Symptoms
Typically, high blood pressure causes no symptoms. People with high blood pressure can have damage to their heart, kidneys, eyes, and circulation with no warning signs. That’s why every routine examination at UrgentMED includes blood pressure testing.
In some instances, people with high blood pressure may experience:
- Blurred vision
- Shortness of breath
Left untreated in the long term high blood pressure can result in serious health complications including, heart attack, stroke, heart failure, metabolic syndrome, and dementia.
Reducing the Risk of High Blood Pressure
The consequences of high blood pressure depend on how long you’ve had it, its severity, as well as your underlying medical condition. You don’t have to overhaul your entire life to improve your blood pressure. If you’ve ever asked the question “How can I lower my blood pressure?”, here is your answer. You can reduce your risk of hypertension by changing your lifestyle and making healthier choices, including these six tips:
- If you are overweight, lose weight
- Eat foods low in cholesterol, salt, saturated fat, potassium, and trans fat
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Reduce or eliminate tobacco intake
- Engage in daily exercise or active behavior
- Find ways to limit the amount of stress you experience daily
Treating High Blood Pressure
If these lifestyle changes do not substantially lower your blood pressure, a physician with the UrgentMED network of clinics may prescribe medicine. Some of the types of medicines that can help are ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, and diuretics.
If you test your blood pressure at home and the results are abnormally high and you have no other symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, difficulty speaking, or a severe headache, visit a walk-in clinic that is part of the UrgentMED Network. We have 19 locations in the Southern California area with health services to help you start feeling better today, no appointment necessary. The urgent care clinics within the UrgentMED Network accept over 15 private insurance providers as well as Medicaid. Check out the full list of accepted insurance. Take control of your blood pressure issues today.