When it comes to measuring high blood pressure (hypertension), many wonder whether the number on top (systolic) is more important than the number on the bottom (diastolic).
Typically, systolic blood pressure is given more attention as a risk factor for heart disease. However, both systolic and diastolic blood pressure are equally important in monitoring the health of your heart.
What the numbers measure
- Systolic blood pressure indicates the amount of pressure being exerted on the walls of your arteries when your heart beats.
- Diastolic blood pressure indicates the amount of pressure being exerted on the walls of your arteries in between heartbeats.
Blood pressure ranges
- Normal: Under 120/80 mm Hg
- Elevated: 120-129 systolic, under 80 mm Hg diastolic
- Hypertension Stage I: 130-139 systolic, 80-89 mm Hg diastolic
- Hypertension Stage II: Over 140/90 mm Hg
- Hypertensive crisis: Over 180/120 mmHg. This is a dangerously high reading and requires immediate medical attention.
What are the health risks of high blood pressure?
Recent studies have shown that both high systolic blood pressure and high diastolic blood pressure pose health risks:
- High systolic reading: Increases the risk of heart disease. Systolic blood pressure is linked to heart attacks, heart failure, kidney disease and overall mortality.
- High diastolic reading: Increases the risk of aortic disease. The aorta carries blood and oxygen from the heart to the abdomen and chest. People with an elevated diastolic reading are more prone to developing abdominal aortic aneurysm, an enlargement of the aorta that can lead to rupture and a high risk of death.
What foods help lower blood pressure?
If your blood pressure reads consistently higher than 130/80 when you are in a lying down position, you are considered to have high blood pressure.
While limiting alcohol consumption and avoiding smoking are the best ways to lower blood pressure, changes to your diet are important as well. Below are examples of foods that can help you bring your blood pressure under control:
- Olive oil: Olive oil is packed with antioxidants and polyphenols that can help lower blood pressure. For maximum health benefits, it’s best to use extra virgin olive oil and eat it as a dressing instead of frying or cooking your food in it.
- Flaxseeds: Studies have shown that flaxseeds are a powerful superfood packed with nutrients. Flaxseeds contain alpha-linolenic acid, an essential omega-3 fatty acid, which helps to lower blood pressure and can also reduce total cholesterol. Flaxseeds can be sprinkled on salads, smoothies or baked goods.
- Low-sodium foods: Limiting salt in the diet is the best way to help kidney function and lower blood pressure.
- High-potassium foods: Potassium-rich foods also help to lower blood pressure by helping the kidneys flush sodium out of the system. High-potassium foods include spinach,bananas, melons, oranges, apricots, leafy green vegetables, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, tuna, salmon, beans, nuts, seeds, Swiss chard and white beans.
- High-magnesium foods: Magnesium can help relax the blood vessels, making it easier for blood to pass through. Magnesium-rich foods include vegetables, dairy, chicken, legumes and whole grains.
Is low blood pressure dangerous?
Low blood pressure (hypotension) doesn’t cause problems in most people. However, severe hypotension can cause lack of blood flow to the brain, causing dizziness, blackouts or loss of consciousness. It may even be life-threatening in severe cases.
In a low blood pressure reading, systolic and diastolic numbers may fall below 90 and 60 mm Hg, respectively.
Low blood pressure is typically a symptom of an underlying medical condition or aging-related medical condition. It’s important to pay attention to low blood pressure in its initial stages. Symptoms may include:
- Light-headedness or dizziness
- Nausea or vomiting
- Tiredness or weakness
- Cold, sweaty skin
- Shallow, rapid breathing
- Confusion or mental fog
- Loss of consciousness or concussion
- Weak pulse
- Stiff neck
- Pale skin
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Understanding Low Blood Pressure -the Basics: https://www.webmd.com/heart/understanding-low-blood-pressure-basics#
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High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
High blood pressure (hypertension) is a disease in which pressure within the arteries of the body is elevated. About 75 million people in the US have hypertension (1 in 3 adults), and only half of them are able to manage it. Many people do not know that they have high blood pressure because it often has no has no warning signs or symptoms.
Systolic and diastolic are the two readings in which blood pressure is measured. The American College of Cardiology released new guidelines for high blood pressure in 2017. The guidelines now state that blood normal blood pressure is 120/80 mmHg. If either one of those numbers is higher, you have high blood pressure.
The American Academy of Cardiology defines high blood pressure slightly differently. The AAC considers 130/80 mm Hg. or greater (either number) stage 1 hypertension. Stage 2 hypertension is considered 140/90 mm Hg. or greater.
If you have high blood pressure you are at risk of developing life threatening diseases like stroke and heart attack.
REFERENCE: CDC. High Blood Pressure. Updated: Nov 13, 2017.
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