Understanding Blood Pressure. When talking about important metrics of your health, blood pressure levels are one of the most vital numbers to monitor and regulate. And even though we know that some people have different values just as their baseline, we’re aware that high blood pressure can be extremely dangerous and harmful to our health.
High blood pressure has been associated with an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, heart attack, stroke, and even dementia. It’s important to recognize the causes of high blood pressure and implement tools and routines that will support the health of your heart and blood vessels and lower your blood pressure numbers to a normal range.
What is Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is an actual pressure or force that pushes blood through your arteries, forcing it to flow to every area of your body. Your blood transports oxygen and important nutrients into your cells and tissue, helping them perform their important functions. Without blood pressure, you wouldn’t exist so keeping the numbers within normal values is crucial for your overall health and disease prevention.
Even though there are some symptoms that can make you think your blood pressure is low or high, the only real way to know for sure is to measure it. There are two different values for measuring your blood pressure:
- Systolic blood pressure – a number that indicates the amount of pressure your blood exerts against the walls of your arteries when your heart beats
- Diastolic blood pressure – a number that indicates the amount of pressure your blood exerts against the walls of your arteries in between heartbeats
The normal numbers your blood pressure reading should be showing are under 120mm/Hg for the systolic value and under 80 mm/Hg for the diastolic value. Everything over these values is considered elevated or high blood pressure, with values over 130 and especially over 140 defined as hypertension.
Even though both numbers are important and it’s hard to get a reading of elevated systolic blood pressure without having your diastolic blood pressure higher as well, typically more attention is given to the first number, especially as it normally rises with age.
Factors That Contribute to High Blood Pressure
Having a reading of 120/80 mm/Hg is everyone’s goal, but it’s rarely the case these days. The numbers are only getting higher and even though in some cases you might be dealing with a medical condition that requires prescription drugs, most high blood pressure readings of today can be reversed with healthier lifestyle choices.
There are two types of high blood pressure:
- Primary – usually caused by poor lifestyle choices.
- Secondary – caused by diseases, medical conditions, and even certain medications you might be taking.
In the case of secondary high blood pressure, you’re typically put on specific medication treatment and your blood pressure readings are being controlled and monitored by healthcare professionals. But, when you’re getting elevated blood pressure readings without any disease lurking around, it’s important to recognize your lifestyle choices that might be contributing to these numbers and do the necessary changes in order to prevent cardiovascular disease and other health complications. Some of the biggest factors that contribute to high blood pressure include:
- Obesity – having excess weight and body fat increases the level of inflammation in your body, narrows the space in your blood vessels, and increases both the systolic and diastolic pressure, having your body work harder to push the blood through your circulatory system.
- Lack of physical exercise and movement – sedentary lifestyles and lack of exercise are one of the greatest contributors to high blood pressure, increasing the stiffness of your arteries, risking weight gain, and causing inflammation throughout your body.
- Poor Sleep – Recent studies show a link between regular napping and high blood pressure, but the results have more to do with sleep deprivation than actually taking naps. Sleep deprivation and poor sleep quality are definitely one of the biggest factors of poor cardiovascular health and high blood pressure readings.
- Alcohol and smoking – harmful habits such as excess alcohol consumption and smoking increase the level of inflammation in the body, having your body struggle with optimal blood flow and nutrient distribution.
- Age – aging causes arterial stiffness which makes them less flexible and healthy, causing high blood pressure. Anyone over 55 years of age has an increased risk of developing high blood pressure.
- Genetics – unfortunately, there are some genetic factors that can increase your risk of developing hypertension. If you have family members with a history of high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes, your chances increase.
Is Low Blood Pressure Healthy?
On the other hand, some people have really low blood pressure. If the normal readings are all under 120/80 mm/Hg, is there unhealthy low blood pressure?
For those people whose normal readings are low, getting a reading of 120/80 mm/Hg is considered elevated. That’s why it’s important to measure your blood pressure and know your baseline. But, even with low blood pressure, you might have readings that are too low, usually presenting themselves with very noticeable symptoms like nausea, dizziness, fainting, dehydration, low sugar levels, blurred vision, lack of concentration, and similar.
So even though having low blood pressure is considered healthy, there are instances where if your blood pressure reading is too low, you might be experiencing unpleasant and potentially dangerous symptoms.
How to Lower Your Blood Pressure Levels?
Now that you know what kind of factors contribute to high blood pressure, it’s important to do whatever you can to bring these values within a normal range. Some of the best practices to lower your blood pressure include:
- Maintaining a healthy body mass index – obesity and excess body fat are leading contributors to high blood pressure and it’s due to the Standard American Diet and its low-quality, overprocessed foods that are extremely nutrient-deficient and inflammatory that put a lot of stress on your cardiovascular system.
- Limit your sodium intake – excess sodium is known to cause high blood pressure so it’s important to stick to the recommended guidelines and avoid going over the limit.
- Minimize processed foods and sugars – processed foods and high sugar intake contribute to inflammation and fat build-up in your artery walls, causing high blood pressure.
- Limit your consumption of alcohol and tobacco – minimize your consumption as much as possible to lower inflammation and prevent high blood pressure.
- Include powerful superfoods into your diet – special superfoods such as chia seeds, ginger, maca powder, lucuma, and camu camu support your cardiovascular health and promote healthy blood pressure values.
- Schedule regular exercise – regular and consistent exercise is known to improve your overall health, but especially cardiovascular health, lowering your blood pressure 5-8 mm/Hg and preventing those values from going up.
- Focus on improving your sleep quality – implement good sleeping habits and let your body rest and recover through the night.
- Implement stress-reducing techniques – keep your stress hormones at bay with stress-reducing techniques such as meditation, mindfulness routines, journaling, floating tanks, and similar.
Having a normal blood pressure reading is vital for your overall health and longevity as high blood pressure has constantly been one of the leading causes of heart disease and death worldwide. Implement healthy lifestyle techniques and improve the quality of your life starting today. There’s no time to waste when it comes to your health.