How to Maintain a Healthy Blood Pressure - NYCM Insurance Blog

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Feb 17, 2023

How to Maintain a Healthy Blood Pressure

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), nearly half of Americans have high blood pressure, but many don’t know about it. Maintaining a healthy blood pressure is important to a healthy lifestyle, and a consistently high blood pressure can lead to serious or potentially fatal health complications. Read more to learn what is high blood pressure, what are the threats, what are the causes, who’s at risk, and what you can do to lower your blood pressure.

What is High Blood Pressure?

Known as the “silent killer,” high blood pressure, or hypertension, is when the force of the blood moving through your vessels is consistently too high. Blood pressure is measured in two numbers: a ‘systolic’ number - or upper number - and a ‘diastolic’ number - or lower number. The AHA puts blood pressure ranges into five categories:
  1. A normal blood pressure is any reading consistently below 120/80 mm Hg.
  2. An elevated blood pressure is when your upper number ranges from 120-129.
  3. An individual has stage one high blood pressure when their numbers are 130-139/80-89 mm Hg.
  4. An individual has stage two high blood pressure when their numbers are higher than 140/90 mm Hg.
  5. A blood pressure reading of more than 180/120 mm Hg is considered a hypertensive crisis.

What Are the Threats of High Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure can lead to a number of dangerous health threats affecting different parts of your body over time. If untreated, threats that can come as a result of high blood pressure include a heart attack, stroke, heart disease or failure, vision loss, and kidney disease or failure. In many cases high blood pressure does not bring with it many obvious symptoms, so it’s important to regularly monitor your blood pressure and seek treatment if your numbers are consistently above the threshold.

What Contributes to High Blood Pressure?

Many different factors affect your blood pressure, some of which are modifiable, like your diet, and some of which are out of your control, like your age. A few of these factors are:
       Diet: An unhealthy diet - specifically one that includes a high level of saturated and trans fats and salt - can cause health problems, including high blood pressure. Consuming too much alcohol can also lead your blood pressure to spike beyond healthy levels.
       Physical Activity: A lack of regular physical activity can be bad news for your heart and circulatory system, including your blood pressure. Inactivity increases your odds of heart attack and stroke.
       Being Overweight: Being overweight can put extra strain on your heart, leading to high blood pressure.
       Smoking and Tobacco Use: Smokers and individuals who use tobacco products are at an increased risk of high blood pressure and other heart-related issues.
       Age: Older individuals stand a higher risk of hypertension than younger individuals. Fact: Below the age of 65, men have a higher risk of high blood pressure than women, but above the age of 65, women are more at risk.

Who’s at Risk?

Your age, gender, race, fitness, and family history can all impact your blood pressure.
Older individuals are more at risk because as you age, your blood vessels become less elastic and so blood pressure naturally rises.
According to the AHA, African Americans tend to have a higher risk of high blood pressure in America than any other race.
People who have a history of high blood pressure or chronic kidney disease in their family are at a higher risk of developing high blood pressure.

What Steps Can You Take?

One of the most important things you can do to maintain a healthy blood pressure is to regularly monitor it so that you’re aware of what’s normal for you. If you’re finding your blood pressure is consistently elevated or high, you should contact your doctor to develop a plan to lower it.
Some steps you can take are:
       Improve your diet by eating less saturated and trans fats and sodium. Incorporate more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into your diet, and try to limit salty foods and red meat.
       Stay active! By regularly exercising and keeping active, you can improve your heart health and decrease your odds of heart attack or stroke.
       If you are a smoker, quitting can pay positive dividends to your heart and the other systems involved in regulating your blood pressure.
       Try to find healthy ways to manage stress.
Because some of the risk factors are outside of your control, healthy lifestyle changes might not be enough to lower your blood pressure. Consult with your doctor and consider medication to lower your blood pressure if necessary.
Did you know NYCM Insurance is a sponsor of the American Heart Association? Read here about our employees advocating for heart health.