Confused about blood pressure? Don?t be. The numbers reveal the force of the flow of blood in the arteries when the heart beats and rests. High blood pressure damages those arteries, making them thick and stiff, which constricts blood flow to organs. Two numbers measure the pressure: a top, or systolic, figure and a bottom, or diastolic, figures. The systolic number is the beating force, and diastolic number is the resting force. Here?s a quick look at how the numbers stack up.
- High: 140 over 90 (or higher)
- At risk: anything between 120 over 80 and 140 over 90. This is classified as prehypertension, which about 37 million Americans are thought to have.
- Normal: less than 120 over 80.
THESE STEPS CAN HELP ? WHETHER YOU?RE HEALTHY OR ALREADY ON BLOOD PRESSURE MEDICATION.
1- Get moving. At least a half-hour of aerobic activity every day ? like biking, walking, or using a treadmill helps strengthen your heart, making it work more efficiently, which means less pressure on your arteries. Plus, exercise is crucial for another reason: It helps you watch your weight, a key to blood pressure control. University of South Carolina researchers found that even tiny increases in body mass index (BMI) lead to big jumps in hypertension risks.
2- Eat your minerals. You probably know about going easy on the salt, but don?t do the same with potassium or magnesium. A recent research review in the Journal of Clinical Hypertension found that upping potassium and magnesium intake by eating more fruits and veggies can help lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure by two to six points, especially when you also lay off the salt. Acorn squash, bananas, and dates are a few great sources of potassium. And spinach is high in magnesium.
3- Feed a chocolate craving. A regular-size dark chocolate bar (about 1.5 ounces) or a cup of hot cocoa every day can reduce blood pressure by about three points, a new study by Yale University researchers says. Antioxidants in chocolate are thought to be the key, although the link isn?t certain.
4- Listen, and let go. Just 30 minutes of classical music every day combined with slow abdominal breathing may lower mild high blood pressure by up to four points, according to a study presented at a recent American Society of Hypertension annual meeting. Also, transcendental meditation may have as much of an impact for people with hypertension as taking a second medicine, a University of Kentucky research review shows.?
5- Open a cabernet. And have one glass. A study out of Harvard found that a little alcohol can lower women?s risk of high blood pressure. But any more than one drink a day ups risks for a number of health problems, including breast cancer.