Your heart pumps blood every time it beats. This blood gives energy and oxygen to every part of your body. Therefore, it is important to keep your heart healthy at every age! If you maintain a lower blood pressure, then you will limit the strain on your heart and reduce you risk of health complications such as stroke.
Understanding Your Numbers
Picture this–You are at the doctor’s. She takes your blood pressure and turns to you. “100 over 70.” It seems like she’s happy, but… What does that mean!?
When your heart beats, it contracts and pushes blood through your arteries. The pressure created by this force is called your systolic blood pressure. A normal reading is below 120 while a reading of 140 or more indicates hypertension (high blood pressure).
Bottom number: diastolic blood pressure
Your diastolic blood pressure is the pressure in the arteries when your heart rests between beats. At this time, the heart fills with blood and oxygen. A normal reading is below 80 while a reading of 90 or higher indicates hypertension (1).
Diabetes and High Blood Pressure
The combination of diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure) significantly increases your risk of deadly complications including:
Hypertension is a silent problem—you may not know you have high blood pressure until your provider checks. So, get your blood pressure tested every year!
7 Ways to Minimize without Medication
Medication isn’t the only way to lower your blood pressure. Consider the following lifestyle changes to reduce your blood pressure and keep it down!
1: Lose weight
As your weight increases, your blood pressure is also more likely to increase. Losing as little as 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) can help! (2)
2: Watch your waistline
Extra inches around your waistline can increase your blood pressure so, limit the amount of body fat around your stomach. Men’s waist measurements should be less than 40 inches (102 cm) and women’s waist measurements should be less than 35 inches (89 cm) (2).
The best exercise to reduce blood pressure is any exercise, so take your pick! (3) Many people enjoy walking, cycling, swimming, dancing, or weight lifting! Find out what works best for you, and move for at least 30 minutes a day. If that seems overwhelming then, complete three 10-minute workouts to gain the same benefits! (4)
4: Choose healthy foods
- Eat whole, healthy foods. Dark leafy greens and fish are heart healthy choices!
- Avoid processed (boxed) foods whenever possible
- Read food labels to check for sodium (Learn how)
5: Limit alcohol
Drinking alcohol in small amounts may slightly lower your blood pressure. But having more than 1-2 drinks can actually raise your blood pressure by several points and could reduce how well your hypertension medications work (7).
6: Quit smoking
Cigarettes contain nicotine. Nicotine narrows your arteries and as a result, raises your heart rate and blood pressure. Smoking increases your risk of hypertension, heart attack, and stroke. If you quit smoking, then you can lower your risk of these complications and your blood pressure (8).
Not a smoker? Inhaling secondhand smoke also puts you at risk of high blood pressure and other health issues.
While chronic stress may not directly cause hypertension, stress contributes to hypertension by promoting unhealthy habits linked to high blood pressure (e.g., binge eating or drinking, smoking) (9). Meditation is an excellent way to reduce stress and lower your blood pressure! Check out our One Drop Guide to Meditation.