More Than Just A Number: Blood Pressure and Heart Disease

Two senior women are walking outdoors for exercise. Before you step out onto the tennis court, give that tennis ball a good squeeze. That’s how hard your heart has to work to pump blood through your body. Heart rate and blood pressure are two of primary vitals that are recorded and tracked during a physician’s exam. Blood pressure is the pressure of circulating blood on the walls of blood vessels. It’s normal for blood pressure to rise and fall throughout the day. However, when blood pressure rises and stays high for a long time, that’s called high blood pressure, or hypertension. High blood pressure is a serious condition that raises a person’s risk for heart attack, stroke, and kidney and heart failure.

Highs and Lows

Normal blood pressure numbers can vary for each person, especially if they have a health condition or take medication that can affect their blood pressure. As of December 2017, the American Heart Association recommends the following five ranges for healthy and unhealthy blood pressure*:

  • Normal: Systolic is less than 120mm Hg and diastolic is less than 80mm Hg
  • Prehypertension: Systolic is 120-129 or diastolic is less than 80
  • High blood pressure (hypertension) stage 1: Systolic is 130-139 or diastolic is 80-89
  • High blood pressure (hypertension) stage 2: Systolic is 140 or higher or diastolic is 90 or higher
  • Hypertensive crisis (call 911 for emergency care): Systolic is higher than 180 or diastolic is higher than 120

Hypertension means that there is more resistance to the blood flow. This is a sign that the heart is working too hard to pump blood through your circulatory system because of narrow or blocked arteries. Blood pressure numbers should be tracked and recorded regularly to get an accurate diagnosis.

Currently, heart disease is one the leading causes of death in the United States. However, there are steps that can be taken to lower your blood pressure, which will reduce your risk of developing heart disease. In addition to keep your blood pressure in check, consider doing the following:

  • Maintaining a healthy diet
  • Staying active and maintaining a healthy weight
  • Stop smoking

Track Your Numbers

Looking to keep better track of your blood pressure? Visit your local Publix pharmacy for a free health screening at BayCare HealthHub. Create an account, so you can track your results and share with your physician. BayCare offers a variety of ways for you to keep track of your health, including health events and lectures.

*There is considerable controversy about blood pressure ranges. You should speak with your physician about what your optimal blood pressure range should be.