This article, “Blood Pressure: What’s Healthy- What’s Not” is the first in a three part series. One out of every five adults in North America live with high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. After the age of 65, this number increases significantly to one out of every two adults. Since it often goes undetected, hypertension is commonly referred to as the silent killer.
Two numbers convey a person’s blood pressure:
- the systolic (higher number) blood pressure and
- diastolic (lower number) blood pressure.
The systolic blood pressure denote the arterial pressure as the heart muscle contracts and then pumps blood through the arteries. Optimally, it should be at 120 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or less. The diastolic blood pressure is the pressure within the artery when the heart is in a relaxed state. It should optimally be at or less than 80 mm Hg. The elevation in both of these numbers are strong
indicators of disease. (1) (2)
By definition, hypertension is when the systolic blood pressure exceeds 139 mm Hg or the diastolic blood pressure exceeds 89 mm Hg for extended periods.
Primary or essential hypertension has no clearly defined cause and occurs in 95% of the cases. Secondary hypertension occurs in the remaining 5% of the cases and
is often caused by sleep apnea (sleep-disordered breathing) and kidney disease. (1) (2)
Typically there are no symptoms of hypertension. To assure it does not go undetected, it is important to check it on a regular basis.
Importance of Controlling Blood Pressure
It is essential to control blood pressure to primarily prevent strokes and related diminished brain function, cardiovascular disease, poor circulation of blood in the legs, vision problems, and sudden death. People with hypertension are much more likely to suffer from these disorders than those with normal blood pressure levels. Additionally, smoking and elevated lipoproteins also significantly increases the risk for these diseases. Early diagnosis of hypertension is important. If the condition continues unchecked over a long period of time, typically it resists therapy and with time will advance to a more serious stage. (4)
Hypertension is a disorder that cannot be overlooked. In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle and decrease your risk of these life-threatening diseases, there are a number of preventive measures that can be taken. As the next two articles in the series will show, lifestyle changes and critical minerals are important to the function and maintenance of the heart and circulatory system.