Blood pressure is a measure of how hard your blood is pushing out against the walls of your arteries and veins. High blood pressure (or hypertension) directly increases your chance of stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney problems, and other complications. The longer your blood pressure remains high, the greater your risk.
Green Health Pharmacy can measure your blood pressure, explain what these numbers mean, and suggest changes you can make to your lifestyle to bring those numbers down. In addition, we will work with you and your doctor to review any medications that you are taking to ensure that you are getting the most from your treatment.
What These Tests Measure
Blood pressure consists of two measurements, the systolic pressure and the diastolic pressure. These numbers are usually reported as the systolic pressure over the diastolic pressure, such as 120/80 mmHg (millimeters of mercury).
- The systolic pressure is a measurement of your blood pressure at its peak. Each time your heart beats, your blood pushes against the artery walls with its greatest force. This will always be a larger number than your diastolic pressure.
- The diastolic pressure is a measurement of your blood pressure at its lowest point. When your heart rests between beats, some of the pressure against your artery walls is released, causing your blood pressure to drop. This number will always be the smaller of the two measurements.
High blood pressure in an adult is blood pressure that is 140/90 mmHg or higher. (Diabetic adults need to keep their blood pressure below 130/80 mmHg, and patients over 60 may have slightly higher blood pressure, less than 150/90.)
Things You Can Do to Lower Your Blood Pressure
- Exercise. Keep physically active doing things you enjoy. Whether you walk, run, garden, or play sports, any sort of physical activity can be beneficial.
- Limit your salt intake. Simply reducing the amount of salt in your diet can have as much effect as many blood-pressure-lowering medications. In the grocery store, read labels and look for low-salt versions of your favorite foods. At home, taste your food before adding salt and limit the portion sizes of any food with a high salt content.
- Stop smoking. Not only does smoking raise your blood pressure, it also injures the walls of your blood vessels and speeds up the process of hardening your arteries. If you do smoke, refrain from smoking for at least an hour before getting your blood pressure checked to get a more accurate measurement.
- Limit your caffeine intake. Caffeine is a stimulant and, as such, it raises your blood pressure while you are under its effects. If you drink large amounts of coffee or soda, try to reduce or even eliminate these caffeine-containing products from your diet. In addition, refrain from drinking these products for at least an hour before getting your blood pressure checked to avoid getting an artificially inflated reading.