Under Pressure!

Blood Pressure Monitor

Under Pressure!

Blood pressure is a measure of how hard your heart has to work to pump your blood through your veins and arteries to provide oxygen and nutrients to all the cells of your body. Your normal blood pressure rises and falls throughout the day, depending on your activity level, emotions, and what food you eat. However, if it stays elevated, you may be at risk for angina, heart diseas, heart attack, or stroke. You should get routine blood pressure screenings to be certain your heart is not working too hard because you cannot necessarily feel any change – there are no warning symptoms. For this reason, high blood pressure, also called Hypertension, is known as the “silent killer”.

When you get your blood pressure checked, you will get two numbers, such as “120 over 80”. This first number (usually the bigger number) is the systolic pressure which measures the force inside your blood vessels when your heart pumps. The second number (usually smaller) is the diastolic pressure which measures the force inside your blood vessels when your heart rests between beats. Normal numbers are less than 120 for systolic pressure and less than 80 for diastolic pressure. If your numbers are between 120 and 139 (systolic) or 80 and 89 (diastolic), you are considered “at risk” for hypertension. If your numbers are 140 over 90 or higher, you may have hypertension and should be seen by a physician. However, a single high reading does not mean much. The general rule for diagnosis of Hypertension is three high readings under the same circumstances using the same blood pressure meter (sphygmomanometer) – same time of day, same location, same activity level, etc.

• So, what can you do to reduce your risk, or to reduce your pressure if you already have Hypertension?

• Get your blood pressure checked regularly. At your pharmacy, at church, at health fairs.

• Eat a healthy diet low in calories, low in fat, and low is sodium/salt. Think about your heart at each meal.

• Maintain a healthy weight. If you are too heavy or too thin, your heart is likely overworked.

• Be physically active. Getting your pulse up for 30 minutes to an hour every day is the best way to exercise your heart and keep it fit.

• Limit alcohol use and don’t smoke. There are lots of programs available to help you, if you need it. Talk to your physician.

• Prevent or manage diabetes. Reduce how much sugar, corn syrup, and carbohydrates you consume, and if you have diabetes, regularly check your blood sugar.

• Reduce emotional stress. An attitude of looking at the bright side really does help.

• Take medication exactly as prescribed. Of course, taking hypertension medication correctly is important, but many other medications can change blood pressure if taken inappropriately as well.

For more information, talk to your physician or pharmacist about your specific circumstances and check out this website: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hbp/

Be Well, Be Wise,


Dr. Rebecca Wise

Wise Words…. is a general medical information column from Dr Rebecca Wise. Dr. Wise has a master’s degree in education as well as her doctorate in pharmacy. She is an assistant professor and ambulatory care specialist at a Medication Therapy Management (MTM) clinic in Erie, PA.

Soon to be released is Dr Becky’s new website which will address women’s issues, watch for it: www.WiseWordsforWomen.com

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