Hello. This is Hypertension Prevention Tuesdays! Today, we’ll give you an introduction to normal blood pressure. For quite a long time, the term normal blood pressure meant having blood pressure reading of 120/80 with the first number referring to systolic blood pressure and the second to diastolic blood pressure. Of late, however, the American Heart Association has made changes to the definition of normal blood pressure which now refers to less than 120/less than 80 as the new readings. The results of research on the effects of blood pressure over a longer period of time revealed that the new readings are more appropriate.
Changed Cut-Off Values
In fact, the American Heart Association has gone further than simply redefining what normal blood pressure is by also changing cut-off values for various stages of high blood pressure. All these changes have been affected because of the research findings that revealed that there was greater risk of suffering a heart attack and other forms of illness whenever blood pressure was elevated.
Blood pressure is a measurement that shows how much pressure is created whenever the heart pumps out the blood that travels through the blood vessels. There is a difference between normal blood pressure in adults, and normal blood pressure in children. In children, having a slightly less blood pressure, while seniors have slightly elevated blood pressure. A reading of 130/80 or higher is not good for you and so should be treated at the earliest. This could mean having to make changes to your diet, and also having to take medications. It should, however, be every person’s goal to maintain normal blood pressure.
The two blood pressure values that are measured refer to systolic pressure and diastolic pressure. Systolic pressure is when the heart begins to contract in order to push blood out into the body. Diastolic pressure is when the heart starts to relax and is filled with blood which will then be pumped out again. To obtain blood pressure readings, the doctor must make use of a sphygmomanometer, often called a “blood pressure monitor” or “blood pressure cuff”, that can measure blood pressure in the arteries.
People that consume healthy diets, and who exercise regularly, and who are in good physical condition, and whose lives are not stressed out (ha! let’s work on lowering our stress levels), are the ones that are most likely to enjoy normal blood pressure.
During the day it is normal for a person’s blood pressure to vary, and so it is a good idea to learn about what a “normal blood pressure range” for different people is. Typically, for those people that are aged between 20yo – 40yo, the range is 120/less than 80. In order to assess your blood pressure, it makes sense to take a reading at the same time on successive days, as this will enable you to learn just how normal, or otherwise, your blood pressure is.
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I’m excited to talk about this topic today because not only do I truly believe that you have the power to reverse heart disease and lower high blood pressure to improve your health, but the science also agrees! You can adopt healthy lifestyle practices that improve your health and enrich your life, which can in turn improve the lives of those close to you. You have the power to break the cycle of these chronic diseases so that you can leave a legacy of health to your loved ones.
As you may already know, I use lifestyle medicine as the first line of treatment, before medications, to treat lifestyle-related chronic diseases. Lifestyle-related chronic diseases include diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and some cancers, just to name a few. Lifestyle practices, such as eating a whole-food plant-based diet and regular physical activity, can help you improve blood pressure and reverse heart disease. In certain cases, these approaches may even outperform pharmaceutical therapy. But I always tell my patients that conventional medications may be appropriate at this time to prevent catastrophic illness, but over time, you can work to make the necessary lifestyle changes to possibly reduce and/or eliminate medications. Please remember to always consult your physician for your particular needs and circumstances prior to making any decisions whatsoever.
Tools to Improve Heart Health
Blood Pressure Monitoring
Since weight management is very important in blood pressure control, I recommend that you be mindful of your weight and its fluctuations, and that you monitor your weight AT LEAST on a weekly basis. I recommend a scale that includes a body composition monitor.
Remember, healthy lifestyle behaviors–like eating a whole-foods plant-based diet that is low in sodium, being physically active, and stress management are the best ways to prevent and control high blood pressure. Please talk with your doctor about any complementary health approaches, including supplements, you use.
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PS. I am always asked what tools and resources I recommend to help you reach YOUR health goals. Here is the ever-growing, always updated list for you.
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