This week is Heart Week and the theme for 2017 is to know what your blood pressure is and improve it.
So what does blood pressure really mean? Blood pressure is the pressure of blood on the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps it around the body. It goes up and down all the time adjusting to the heart’s needs and whatever you are doing.
To measure your blood pressure your GP or his nurse will put a cuff around your upper arm and pump it up then release the pressure while listening to your pulse. The measurement gives two numbers, the first one is when the heart is pumping blood out of the heart and the second is when the heart is relaxed between contractions.
What is a normal blood pressure? Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80mmHg. Measures over 120/80mmHg and up to 139/89mmHg are in the normal to high normal range. If your readings are higher, you may be diagnosed with high blood pressure which is also called hypertension. This condition has no signs or symptoms but can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney and blood vessel disease.
And what does alcohol have to do with your heart? Alcohol can increase your blood pressure. The exact causes of high blood pressure are often unclear but may be influenced by your family history (did your mum or dad have high blood pressure?), eating patterns including eating too many salty foods, your alcohol intake (uh oh!), being overweight, how much physical activity you do, and what medication you take.
So… love your heart by looking after you. First of all, see you GP and ask for your blood pressure to be measured. Get the okay to make some changes, including doing some exercise. Then eat better by throwing away the salt shaker, eating less junk, having plenty of fruit and vegies, as well as drink less alcohol, and get some exercise.