The American Heart Association defines normal blood pressure as less than 120 systolic and less than 80 diastolic. Systolic pressure, the top number, represents the pressure within the heart’s arteries—that is when the heart muscle contracts. The diastolic pressure, the bottom number, represents the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats—or when the heart muscle rests between beat and refills with blood. Recommendations state that blood pressure screenings begin at age 20. If numbers are normal, less than 120/80, screenings should take place every two years. Diet and a sedentary lifestyle are the main culprits for high blood pressure.
Sodium rich foods encourage hypertension. The body needs only 300-400 milligrams of sodium a day to function. That is about ¾ of a teaspoon. Most people consume 3000 to 5000 milligrams a day. Why is this? The answer is prepared foods. The best way to reduce hypertension via diet is to reduce sodium intake to no more than 1500 milligrams. Efforts to reduce hypertension in the diet generally requires giving up all prepared foods unless the sodium content, on the product label, is less than the calorie count per serving. For example, seasoned rice might have a calorie count of 200 per serving, but a sodium content of 540. That is bad. Another product might have a calorie count per serving of 200 and a sodium content of 120. That is good. Sodium is hidden everywhere, from the rotisserie chicken one buys at the grocery store to the best restaurant in town. Make efforts to talk to people in both environments to not season with salt, as the food itself has natural sodium already. Exercise is also recommended.
For optimal health, perform some form of cardio exercise 5 to 6 days per week. Start slow with as little as a ten minute walk and build up to 45 minutes. Use a pedometer to measure steps walked throughout the day. Break up the exercise if time or energy levels are an issue: morning and night. A walk after dinner helps with digestion as well.
The advice given may take a bit of getting used to, but, health will improve. Blood pressure medications manage hypertension, often with side effects; they do not cure the condition.