How Is Blood Pressure Controlled?
- Blood pressure is made up of two numbers that are read by a machine and shown as one number over the other. The top number is based on the heart's pumping action, and the lower number is the pressure in between beats in the blood vessels. Sometimes, blood pressure gets out of control and is higher than it should be. When this happens, you have to control it to bring the numbers back down. A good reading is 120/80 or lower. According to the American Heart Association, blood pressure is considered high when the top number is over 140 and the bottom number is over 90.
- Blood pressure is controlled by several different methods. One of these is medication. If all other methods, such as exercise, diet and stress-relief techniques, prove ineffective, or the pressure is so high that it needs to come down immediately, your doctor might prescribe medication that helps bring it down. If you are placed on medication to maintain a lower level of pressure, you will need to take it every day. Missing a dose is not recommended. The medicine will work out of your system, and your blood pressure will rise. Types of medication that can control blood pressure include beta blockers, angiotensin-2 receptor antagonists, diuretics and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors.
- Relieving stress is one way you can reduce blood pressure on your own. If your pressure is only slightly elevated, certain techniques and activities can lower it to within normal levels. Exercise is one way to lower blood pressure. Getting in shape reduces weight, tones muscles and improves the condition of your body, including the heart. A healthy heart doesn't have to work as hard to pump blood, which lowers blood pressure.
Relaxation techniques can also work at lowering pressure. Yoga and other stress-reducing activities calm you and help lower your stress levels. If your blood pressure is caused by stress and worry, stress-reducing activities can help you relax and focus on other things.
- Diet also can affect your blood pressure. Not only does your blood pressure rise if you are gaining weight, but it also rises with certain foods that you eat. Extra weight on the body increases blood pressure in most individuals, especially weight around the middle. Foods low in saturated fats or cholesterol such as whole grains, vegetables and fruits help lower blood pressure and are also effective in reducing weight. Salt is one of the worst things for those who already have high blood pressure. Almost 60 percent of those with blood pressure issues have a sensitivity to salt that elevates their pressure, according to a Myron Weinberger, MD, director of the Hypertension Research Center at the Indiana University School of Medicine. Intake of salt should be reduced as much as possible to help control blood pressure. Average salt intake is around 2,400 mg, whereas a low-sodium diet is around 1,500 mg per day.