Everytime you go to the doctor’s office, your blood pressure is taken. We all know that this is a normal part of a physical exam, but why are the healthcare providers so stressed about making sure they throw on the cuff every single time you're there for a visit? Well, when you look into what the numbers mean… blood pressure is something that’s worth stressing over.
Blood pressure is a measure of how well or how hard your heart is working to get blood pumped throughout your body. Considering that blood and its contents are the key ingredients to each and every bodily process, making sure it gets where it’s supposed to go on time is pretty important.
So how often should you really get your blood pressure checked? Turns out, healthcare teams are spot on by taking your blood pressure readings each time they have a visit with you. The numbers produced from your blood pressure reading can creep slowly up and down… but either way, having a history of these numbers tells your healthcare team A LOT about what could be going on with your overall health. From these readings, your team can suggest therapies, lifestyle modifications, or medications that can make a DRAMATIC difference in your overall health.
Like during an oil change when they review your car’s oil levels to ensure your vehicle is safe to hit the road again, our healthcare provider tells us the reading from the blood pressure cuff and let us know if we are good to go or need some more tests to help diagnose this major indicator. But many of us are not familiar with what your numbers mean or how the provider even comes up with them.
Here’s the breakdown:
The TOP number (“systolic”) measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart is beating.
The BOTTOM number (“diastolic”) measures the pressure in your arteries between heart beats.
As the numbers get higher, that means your heart is having to do more work to pump the blood through (usually called “Hypertension” or “high blood pressure”). If your heart has to work hard for a long time, this damages the heart muscle and the vessels/arteries that connect throughout your body. When you get an increased reading… this is your body essentially saying, “Hey, I am getting worn out here… can we do something to bring us back down to average speed?!?”
Stress is also a factor in elevated blood pressure readings. Many of the tips to help lower your blood pressure can also be used to ease your mind as well:
- Regulate your schedule - Starting and sticking to a routine that is manageable for you can help you stay on track with your daily checklist and also help schedule in things you may have not been able to find time for in the past.
- Do something active each day - You can keep it simple, but make sure it is something that gets your heart pumping, like a walk or even getting up and doing a couple of exercises during a commercial break.
- Slowly try something new - Expand your palette by adding something healthy each week to your menu. This could be a new food to try, or swapping out ingredients in your family favorite recipes to help health-ify them.
- Focus on things you can control - Expectations are a big part of managing your stress and keeping things in perspective. Bring your mindset back to what positive changes you can make in your life and focus your energy on making plans to solve problems you have been facing.
Want more information about blood pressure readings? Here are some of our trusted resources:
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