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Normal pressure fluctuates daily, varying from person to person, but is usually between 100/60 and 130/80. The higher, or "systolic," number measures the pressure of blood flow when the artery is constricted while the lower, or "diastolic," shows the pressure when the artery is fully open and relaxed. Consistent readings of 140/90 and higher over a period of time indicate a need for further medical assessment.
It’s important to check your pressure regularly, either during a medical appointment or at one of the free screenings many communities offer. Drugstore machines can be inaccurate but there are many small home monitoring gadgets available, though it’s important to avoid becoming obsessive about your B/P.
Various drugs are available to lower blood pressure. If you experience side-effects such as light-headedness or fatigue with a particular drug, your doctor may be able to prescribe an alternative medication.
Factors that increase blood pressure include such lifestyle issues as obesity, lack of exercise, smoking, alcohol, stress and consuming foods high in salt and sodium, which increases fluid volume in the body and in turn raises pressure. While it’s tempting to use convenience foods while on the road, avoid canned foods and soups, sausages, bacon and other high sodium items. Stopping at farmers’ markets and roadside stands to buy fresh food can be fun and is healthier.
Besides diet, regular exercise on the road can help lower blood pressure and control weight. Stop routinely for 15-minute walks, daily stretching exercises or regular mini-workouts. Slow, deep breathing and other relaxation techniques are also beneficial. As with any medical condition, if you have high blood pressure always carry your own doctor’s contact information as well as a list of your medications and a summary of your medical history.
Did you know that . . .
A few minutes of daily exercise is more beneficial than more rigorous workouts performed only sporadically. Consistency is what counts!
For more information contact:
American Heart Association
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