Blood pressure is considered normal or healthy when it’s below 120/80, according to the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC). Both organizations now define high blood pressure as anything over 130/80, down from 140/90.
Why is it important to keep track of your blood pressure? Neelima Rao, MD, explains:
High blood pressure is the number one cause of stroke. In fact, people with high blood pressure have a 50 percent higher risk for stroke than those with normal blood pressure. Having high blood pressure also puts you at risk for heart disease, kidney disease, disability and even death.
What are the symptoms of high blood pressure?
High blood pressure is called the silent killer because it does not cause obvious symptoms. To make sure your blood pressure is in the healthy range, have it checked regularly. UH Lake Health even offers free community blood pressure screenings to help check your blood pressure in between doctors appointments. Although high blood pressure can affect anyone, men and African Americans are at higher risk than others.
How do you treat high blood pressure?
The good news is that you have a lot of control over your blood pressure. Yes, some people will need medication, but others will be able to reduce and control their blood pressure with lifestyle changes.
Lowering blood pressure with lifestyle changes
To help lower your blood pressure, I recommend that my patients:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Reduce your salt intake
- Limit alcohol
- Do something active for at least 30 minutes a day.
I also recommend Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, commonly called the DASH diet, which is high in vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy products, whole grains, poultry, fish and nuts, while limiting sweets and red meats.
I have seen major blood pressure changes in patients who lost weight and followed the DASH diet.