High blood pressure is called the silent killer. Read on for tips and information to protect yourself.
Healthy blood pressure for adults is generally a systolic number under 120 and a diastolic number under 80. High blood pressure (also called HBP or hypertension) is when the force of blood flowing through your body is consistently too high. Your heart has to work harder to do its job. This can damage the blood vessels and increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and other health issues. Although high blood pressure isn’t directly linked to gender assigned at birth, other health issues such as pregnancy, pregnancy prevention and menopause can increase someone’s risk of developing high blood pressure.
Blood pressure ranges
There are two numbers in your blood pressure reading: systolic (the first number) and diastolic (the second number).
Normal: Less than 120 systolic and less than 80 diastolic
Elevated: 120-129 systolic and less than 80 diastolic
High blood pressure (hypertension) Stage 1: 130-139 systolic or 80-89 diastolic
High blood pressure (hypertension) Stage 2: 140 or higher systolic or 90 or higher diastolic
Hypertensive crisis: higher than 180 systolic and/or higher than 120 diastolic
Risk factors for high blood pressure in women
- 20 or more pounds overweight
- A family history of high blood pressure
- Reached or passed menopause
- Physical inactivity
- High salt/low potassium diet
- Certain chronic conditions including kidney disease, diabetes or sleep apnea
Blood pressure check
Regular visits with your primary care provider will include blood pressure readings. You also can visit a Norton Prompt Care at Walgreens clinic.
The silent killer
People with HPB generally have no symptoms, which is why early detection is so important. If you are at risk for high blood pressure (see above), talk to your doctor about monitoring your blood pressure at home. The only reliable way to know if you have high blood pressure is to measure it with a blood pressure cuff or have a medical professional check you.
Controlling blood pressure
There is no “cure” for HPB, but you can make lifestyle changes that will reduce your chances of developing heart disease or stroke. Besides prescribed medication, there are other ways to control your blood pressure, including:
- Eating a heart-healthy diet of whole grains, vegetables and less salt
- Getting regular physical activity (that’s at least 150 minutes per week)
- Maintaining a healthy weight or losing weight
- Stopping smoking
- Limiting the amount of alcohol you drink (for assigned females, the limit is one drink or less per day)
How often should I have my doctor check my blood pressure?
- Once a year if you are age 40 or older or at risk for high blood pressure
- Every three to five years if you are between 18 and 40 without a risk factor for high blood pressure
- People menopause as changes in hormone an affect blood pressure
You can have your blood pressure checked during a regular visit with your primary care provider. Other options include Norton Prompt Care at Walgreens clinics, which offer evening and weekend hours. Your doctor may ask you to check your blood pressure at home using a blood pressure cuff or similar device.