Understanding Blood Pressure

Today, almost 108 million Americans have high blood pressure (also known as hypertension). Hypertension puts people at increased risk for conditions and complications like heart disease and stroke, among the leading causes of death in the United States. 

We're taking a look at what is blood pressure and the importance of knowing how to read your number.

What is blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the pressure of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. When measured, it is typically expressed as two numbers; the first (“systolic”) represents the pressure when the heartbeats, while the second (“diastolic”) represents the pressure while the heart is at rest.

What is high blood pressure?

In 2017, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association published new guidelines for hypertension management, changing the definition of “high blood pressure” in the process. These new guidelines include the following categories:

  • Normal: Less than 120 mm Hg (systolic) and less than 80 mm Hg (diastolic)
  • Elevated: 120 – 129 mm Hg (systolic) and less than 80 mm Hg (diastolic)
  • Hypertension – Stage 1: 130 – 139 mm Hg (systolic) or 80 – 89 mm Hg (diastolic)
  • Hypertension – Stage 2: More than 140 mm Hg (systolic) or more than 90 mm Hg (diastolic)

What if my blood pressure is high?

When it comes to hypertension, lifestyle changes are the key to both prevention and management. To maintain healthy blood pressure, consider:

  • Eating healthy, featuring a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and low in sodium (salt).
  • Maintaining a normal body weight (body mass index, or BMI, between 18.5 and 24.9).
  • Take at least one (1) brisk 10-minute walk, 3 times a day, 5 days a week.
  • Quitting smoking (if applicable) and drinking alcohol in moderation.

Additionally, take any prescribed (blood pressure) medications as directed.

Know your numbers

Educating yourself about high blood pressure is a great first step, but “knowing your numbers” is critical to understanding and reducing your personal health risks. From annual exams and physician visits to home blood pressure monitors and “fitness wearables”, it has never been easier to regularly check your blood pressure. Get started today!

Where to get more information

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers a variety of useful blood pressure resources. Start here: https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/facts.htm

The American Heart Association also offers a collection of information, recommendations and support options: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure.

We’re here to help

Your Hawthorne pharmacist is always here for you, and we are happy to answer your questions. 

Transferring your prescriptions is easy, and we offer free local next-day delivery Monday through Friday. You can even order medication refills and communicate with our pharmacists through the RxLocal App!

Visit one of our eight locations or get in touch today.

Nothing herein constitutes medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, or is a substitute for professional advice. You should always seek the advice of your physician or other medical professional if you have questions or concerns about a medical condition.

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