You will need to visit your physician more frequently and he will probably require blood tests as well. One problem however is that ‘normal’ is different for different people and such things as medication, your age, the amount of exercise you take and other factors can change your pressure giving you a normal pressure with may be slightly different from the average.
Is Your Pressure Within Normal Ranges?
Most people do not know why blood pressure readings are expressed as one number over another and so here is a quick explanation. The top and higher number is called your systolic reading which is a measure of the pressure when your heart is beating or pumping. The bottom or lower number is called your diastolic reading and it measures the pressure while the heart is resting between beats.
Your blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury and was original measured using a device called a sphygmomanometer. This has a gauge which is filled with mercury and which rises and falls with the pressure of your blood against the walls of the blood vessels as it passes through your body.
Your doctor wrap a cloth band tightly around your arm and then pump air into it to raise the mercury level in the gauge as the band restricts the flow of blood through the vessels of your arm. Without going into detail, you doctor will listen to your heart beating at the site of the cloth band using a stethoscope and can adjust the air pressure in the band to detect when your heart is pumping blood and when it is resting.
Today the sphygmomanometer has been largely replaced by automatic arm or wrist monitors, which are not only more accurate but are also much simpler to use, so that you can now take your own readings at home rather than having to visit the doctor’s surgery.
What is A Normal Pressure Level?
Before we can answer the question of what your pressure should be we need to understand that normal blood pressure varies from one person to the next. For example, if you have heart disease, kidney disease or diabetes your doctor may be content to see your pressure slightly higher than average and consider normal pressure for you to be say 130 over 80. He may also put you on medication and recommend a change in diet and an exercise plan to maintain this pressure if necessary.
Even for healthy people, increased blood pressure can increase your likelihood of having a heart attack by 20-25 percent, of suffering a stroke by 35-40 percent and of heart failure by more than 50 percent. So, if you suspect that your pressure is high or rising you should schedule regular checks with readings being taken over a period of time for comparison. Your doctor can then work out your average pressure and decide whether any action needs to be taken.
For some people whose pressure is just starting to rise the doctor might recommend nothing more than dietary changes and exercise to lower your numbers. Thirty minutes of exercise daily and a weight loss plan can actually help lower your blood pressure quite significantly. In some people the intake of sodium can affect your pressure significantly and your physician may recommend you reduce your salt intake immediately.
For many people, the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) has proved to reduce high blood pressure within a few weeks. The DASH diet encourages you to eat whole grains, fish, poultry, vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy products, nuts and legumes. All of these foods are high in protein, fiber, magnesium, calcium and potassium and this diet is much lower in sugar, salt, fats and red meats than the usual American diet.
Do you find yourself asking what should your blood pressure be? If so, be sure to discuss this question with your physician and get the facts about your health. You will have no way of knowing whether or not your pressure is normal without having it checked, or checking it yourself, and some simple lifestyle changes if you do start to develop high blood pressure can literally make the difference between life and death. And, don’t forget that one of the best things you can do for your health today is to pop out and buy yourself and your family a blood pressure monitor.