About Blood Pressure & Cholesterol
Know Your Numbers
Most people do not experience any symptoms if they have high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol. Knowing your numbers is usually the only way to know if you are at increased risk of having a heart attack, heart failure, stroke, kidney disease, and other life threatening illnesses. So make sure you know your numbers and what the numbers mean.
How to Read Blood Pressure Numbers
Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80. The first number is the pressure of blood in the vessels when the heart beats and is known as systolic pressure. The second number is the pressure between beats when the heart relaxes and is known as diastolic pressure. mmHg stands for millimeters of mercury.
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
Also known as Hypertension, high blood pressure increases your chances of having a heart attack, heart failure, stroke, kidney disease, and other life threatening illnesses. Blood pressure is the force of blood against the walls of arteries. Blood pressure rises and falls throughout the day. When blood pressure stays elevated over time, it is called high blood pressure. High blood pressure is defined as 140/90 mmHG or higher.
Regular exercise and a diet low in sodium (such as the DASH diet) can prevent someone from getting high blood pressure or lower the blood pressure of someone who already has hypertension. Your health care provider may also ask you to take medications to lower your blood pressure.
A person has pre-hypertension if he or she has a systolic (upper number) blood pressure of 120-139 or a diastolic (lower number) blood pressure of 80-89. People who have pre-hypertension are at risk of developing high blood pressure that requires medication. Those diagnosed with pre-hypertension can usually control or decrease their blood pressure through improved nutrition, exercise and stopping tobacco use if they are a tobacco user.
High Blood Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a natural substance found in all living tissue, but when you have high cholesterol it can be dangerous. When there is too much cholesterol in your blood it can build up in the walls of your arteries. Over time this build up causes the arteries to narrow and blood flow can become slowed or even blocked.
While it is desirable to have a total cholesterol level below 200mg/dL, almost 100 million American adults have total blood cholesterols at or above 200 mg/dL.
Regular exercise and a healthy diet low in fat can help prevent high blood cholesterol. If you already have high cholesterol, a low-fat diet and regular exercise can lower your cholesterol. Your health care provider may also ask you to take medications to lower your cholesterol.