Know your numbers

Hypertension & Blood Pressure Monitoring

One in every three American adults has hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure (BP). Your brain and heart receive nutrients and oxygen through your blood flow, so when your blood pressure rises, so does your risk for heart attack and stroke. Tracking your blood pressure should be as routine as checking height, weight and temperature. Track yours regularly at home — and at every health care appointment. If your blood pressure starts creeping up, it’s time to get down to business and make some simple, yet effective changes to your diet and activity level to Be Well. Stay Well.

Write it down to keep it down

Your blood pressure reading includes two numbers:

  • The systolic (first or top) number shows how hard the blood pushes when your heart is pumping.
  • The diastolic (second or bottom) number shows how hard the blood pushes between heartbeats when your heart is relaxed and filling with blood.

Both numbers are equally important, but a higher systolic, or top, number may point to a greater risk of stroke or heart disease. In general, aim for a blood pressure less than 130/80. Talk to your Primary Care Team about what numbers are right for you and the best plan to get — and keep — a healthy heart.

What causes high blood pressure?

Being overweight, drinking too much alcohol, having a family history of high blood pressure or eating too much salt and getting older may all be culprits when it comes to a rise in your blood pressure. Your blood pressure may also rise if you are not very active, if you don’t eat enough potassium and calcium, or if you have a condition called insulin resistance.

Keep those numbers from climbing:

  • Maintain a healthy weight or lose extra weight.
  • Eat fresh or frozen heart-healthy foods and limit sodium (salt).
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Cut back on caffeine and limit alcohol to 2 drinks a day for men and 1 for women.