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Understanding your blood pressure readings

Dr. Kirk Bonner, Touro Family Medicine Physician discusses why blood pressure is such an important force that can impact our overall health and how to understand your blood pressure readings.

How does our blood pressure impact our overall health?

Maintaining a healthy blood pressure is essential because the higher your blood pressure, the higher your chances of having health issues. HBP comes from an increase in resistance of the arteries. Due to this resistance, your heart must work harder to get blood to your extremities and vital organs. Over time, this can have detrimental effects on your body and health, such as heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure.

It’s important to know about blood pressure and how to keep it in the healthy range. High blood pressure is a symptomless “silent killer” that quietly damages blood vessels and leads to serious health problems.

Knowing your numbers is the best way to know if you have high blood pressure.

How is blood pressure measured?

With a blood pressure reading, you get two numbers. The first number is your systolic pressure, and the second number is your diastolic pressure.

  • Systolic pressure is the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats. It’s measured as the top number.
  • Diastolic pressure is the pressure in your arteries between each heartbeat. It’s measured as the bottom number.

Understand your blood pressure readings 

  • Normal: numbers of less than 120/80 mm Hg
  • Elevated: 120-129 systolic and less than 80 mm Hg diastolic
  • High Blood Pressure (hypertension): 130 or higher systolic 80 or higher diastolic

How can you keep a healthy blood pressure level?

If your blood pressure is in the normal range, you won’t need any medical intervention. However, you should still maintain a healthy lifestyle and healthy weight to prevent high blood pressure from developing. You will also need to be more cautious about your lifestyle if high blood pressure runs in your family.

Maintaining a Healthy Blood Pressure:

  • Keep a healthy body weight
  • Stick with a regular diet of fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products
  • Cut down on sodium intake
  • Get regular exercise
  • Cut back on alcohol intake

Talk with your healthcare provider 

Measure your blood pressure regularly to help your provider diagnose any health problems early. You and your health care team can take steps to control your blood pressure if it’s too high.

Dr. Bonner specializes in Primary Care at Touro. He attended Tulane University Medical School and completed his residency at Ochsner Clinic Foundation and is board-certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Family Medicine.