All adults should have their blood pressure checked on a routine basis. Also, it is never too late to adopt a healthier lifestyle through fitness and improved diet, managing stress, avoiding smoking and limiting alcohol consumption. If you have diabetes, maintaining control of your blood sugar is essential.
Help Reduce Your Risk of Hypertension
You can lower your chances of getting hypertension by:
- Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products while reducing total and saturated fat intake.
- Exercising aerobically in a regimented fashion. If possible, exercise for at least 30 minutes each day.
- Losing weight, if you are overweight. Excess weight adds strain to your heart. In some cases, weight loss alone can be the treatment for hypertension.
- Avoid smoking
- Limit alcohol consumption to one drink a day for women, two drinks for men
- If diabetic, manage your blood sugar
- Control your stress
Tests and Screenings for Hypertension
Blood pressure is measured with an inflatable arm cuff and a pressure-measuring gauge. The blood pressure reading – measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) – provides two numbers. The top number, the systolic blood pressure, corresponds to the pressure in the arteries as the heart contracts and pumps blood forward in the arteries. The bottom number, the diastolic pressure, represents the pressure in the arteries as the heart relaxes after a contraction.
Blood pressure measures fall into four general categories:
Normal blood pressure: Your measurement is normal if it’s below 120/80 mm Hg (read “120 over 80”).
Pre-hypertension: Pre-hypertension describes measurements ranging from 120/80 mm Hg to 139/89 mm Hg. Pre-hypertension is of concern because it tends to get worse over time.
Stage 1 hypertension: Stage 1 hypertension ranges from 140/90 mm Hg to 159/99 mm Hg.
Stage 2 hypertension: This stage reflects any systolic pressure reading 160 mm Hg or higher or any diastolic pressure reading of 100 mm Hg or higher.
If you have high blood pressure, your WellStar physician may recommend additional tests including:
- Blood tests
- Ultrasound of the kidneys
- Cholesterol tests