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Hypertension affects one in every three people in the United States; it causes or worsens severe health concerns like heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and diabetes; and it’s nearly symptomless until the damage to arteries and the body is done. That’s a big problem! But it is a problem with a solution and part of that is finding out what's normal and what's not.
So what’s normal? What is considered high? And what do the numbers mean? Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80, with 120 representing the systolic pressure, or the pressure of your blood against the walls of your arteries when your heart beats, and 80 representing diastolic pressure, or pressure between heart beats. Anything over 120/80 is considered prehypertensive and hypertension begins at 140/90. Medications are prescribed and recommended for blood pressures starting at 139/89.
If you’ve heard the words “high blood pressure” in your doctor’s office, the time to make important lifestyle changes has come. If you’re prehypertensive, these lifestyle changes can help reverse the rise.
Philip Krause, MD, Cardiologist and Director of the Section of Cardiology at NorthShore’s Skokie Hospital, shares his recommendations for simple changes to make now:
Do you worry about your blood pressure levels? How do you keep it in check?