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Set Your Sights on Good Health: Watch Your Blood Pressure Numbers

Set Your Sights on Good Health: Watch Your Blood Pressure Numbers



Chronic conditions like hypertension, or high blood pressure, can affect your overall health and well-being. Making healthy lifestyle choices can help lower your risk of — and even prevent — high blood pressure.

The Basics of Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is the force of blood flowing through your blood vessels, and it’s normal for it to rise and fall throughout the day. High blood pressure occurs when your blood pressure is consistently too high. High blood pressure can cause damage to your heart or lead to other health issues.

There are two types of hypertension. Primary hypertension is typically just called high blood pressure and usually occurs over time. High blood pressure can develop due to unhealthy lifestyle choices, and certain health conditions can increase risk. Secondary hypertension is caused by another medical condition, like those that affect your kidneys, heart, or endocrine system. Nearly half of American adults have high blood pressure, and one in three of those individuals don’t even know they have it.

Know Your Risk

Some factors increase your risk for high blood pressure. These include:

  • Medical conditions like diabetes, pregnancy, and elevated blood pressure
  • Genetics and family history
  • Alcohol and tobacco use
  • Eating an unhealthy diet
  • Obesity
  • Lack of physical activity

The good news is, you can control many of these factors and lower your risk by making healthy lifestyle choices. Eating a heart-healthy diet, staying physically active, managing your stress, and getting enough sleep can all help prevent high blood pressure.

High Blood Pressure is Normally Silent

There are often no symptoms of primary hypertension, and it’s often called the “silent killer” because of this. Early morning headaches, nosebleeds, irregular heart rhythms, and changes to vision can occur in some people, but those are not very common. Fatigue, nausea, anxiety, and chest pain may be present in some severe cases. Monitoring your blood pressure regularly is the best way to know if you have hypertension.

Know Your Numbers

You can check your blood pressure:

  • By visiting your health care provider at their office
  • At a pharmacy that has a digital blood pressure measurement machine
  • With a home blood pressure monitor

Wondering how to check your blood pressure without a machine? You can do this by just using your pulse, but this method is unreliable and not recommended. Always talk to your health care provider if you have concerns about your blood pressure.

Use this guide from the American Heart Association to better understand what your blood pressure numbers mean.