|Healthy blood pressure||less than 120 / 80|
|Pre-hypertension||120-139 / 80-89|
|High blood pressure||over 140 / 90|
May is National Blood Pressure Education Month and it's important for you to know if you're at risk and have regular blood pressure screenings. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, often has no outward signs or symptoms. Even though approximately 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. have high blood pressure, you can take simple and effective steps to prevent and manage this disease.
Blood pressure is measured in two numbers, including systolic, which is the top number and diastolic, which is the bottom number. Systolic pressure measures blood pressure when the heart pumps blood. Diastolic pressure, or the bottom number, measures pressure when the heart is at rest. A normal blood pressure reading is less than 120/80. See the chart above to determine what range your blood pressure falls in.
Eat a Healthy Diet
A low-sodium diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables can be very effective in keeping blood pressure under control. Sodium is known to be a significant contributor to high blood pressure, and most Americans consume well over the recommended amount each day. Most adults should have no more than 2,300 mg of sodium each day. That is equal to just one teaspoon of table salt! Those who are at higher risk or who have already been diagnosed with high blood pressure should consume even less, which is about 1,500 mg. Here are some tips for lowering sodium in your diet and some healthy food swaps you can make.
Exercise is proven to lower blood pressure, as it makes your heart stronger. This enables your heart to pump blood with less effort. Regular exercise can also prevent the onset of age-related increases in blood pressure. Exercise can also manage weight, which is important in maintaining a healthy blood pressure. Learn more about how exercise can help you manage blood pressure and how much exercise you need from the Mayo Clinic.
Each cigarette you smoke increases your blood pressure, at least temporarily. Also, smoking causes many other negative effects on the cardiovascular system including buildup in the arteries, which can lead to increased blood pressure. Smoking is the most preventable cause of premature death in the U.S., but you can reduce your risk by avoiding tobacco or quitting. The health benefits are immediate and continue to improve with time. Learn more about the benefits of quitting in the "be tobacco-free" section of our website.
Have Regular Health Screenings
Annual wellness exams are important in preventing and detecting chronic diseases, like high blood pressure. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi members with the Healthy You! wellness benefit receive an annual wellness visit with a Network Provider at no out-of-pocket cost. Learn more about the covered screenings and services in the Healthy You! Wellness Guide. Blood pressure checks can even be done on your own and are simple and non-invasive. At-home monitors can help you watch your blood pressure more closely or try your local pharmacy for an automated blood pressure reading.
Learn more about steps you can take to manage or lower your blood pressure from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You can also try these tasty and healthy lower-sodium recipes.