Your blood pressure is a measure of the presence or force of the blood against walls of the blood vessels. Since the blood pressure changes when the heart contracts and relaxes, it is measured by two numbers: the systolic (top number) and the diastolic (bottom number). The systolic pressure is the pressure when the heart contracts and forces blood through the blood vessels. The diastolic pressure is the pressure when the heart is relaxed. High blood pressure is often referred to as a silent killer because there are usually no symptoms. It can double or triple your risk for heart disease, kidney disease, cause damage to the blood vessels in the eyes (retinopathy) or the legs or other parts of the body (peripheral vascular disease). High blood pressure or hypertension is defined as pressure that is consistently greater than or equal to 140/90 mmHg . Hypertension damages blood vessel walls by leaving scars that promote the plaque build-up on artery walls. This puts extra strain on the heart and eventually weakens it. High blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke and heart disease.

            To lower your blood pressure reduce your sodium intake, increase exercise, eat more fruits and vegetables, reduce your weight and limit your alcohol intake to no more than 2 drinks per day. Have your blood pressure checked regularly. If it is elevated, take the medication prescribed by your physician.

Ideal Blood Pressure:

Healthy Individuals: less than 135/85
Diabetes or Kidney Disease: less than 130/80