Monday, November 17, 2008

Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is the force of circulating blood on the walls of the blood vessels and is one of the principal vital signs of our body. Blood pressure readings are extremely important in regards to the health of our heart and overall body.

For each heartbeat, blood pressure varies between systolic and diastolic pressure.

"Systolic pressure is the force when blood exits the heart and pumps into rest of body. It is the top number during your blood pressure readings," Jillson said. "Diastolic is when the heart relaxes between the beats and is the bottom number."

A normal blood pressure reading is 120/180, Jillson said. Anything between 120-139 is considered pre-hypertension, and a systolic numer that is higher than 139 is in the hypertension zone. Persistent hypertension is a risk factor for heart attacks, strokes, heart failure and other health problems.

"I would recommend that if you get anything in the pre-hypertension and definitely hypertension, talk to your doctor about ways to reduce your high blood pressure," Jillson said.

There are several ways you can be proactive in reducing your blood pressure and keeping it at a normal level, Jillson said.

"Diet and exercise are the two main ways - watch what you eat and try to be active throughout each week," she said. "You should also reduce your intake of caffeine and decrease stress. Those are factors for high blood pressure."

Blood pressure screenings are offered every Wednesday from 1-2 p.m. in the PAC, Jillson said.

"You should get your blood pressure checked as often as possible. I suggest getting it read every three months if heart disease or high blood pressure runs in your family," Jillson said. "It's very smart to be heart-healthy and to know your numbers."