Blood pressure generally should be measured in both arms to determine if there is a difference. It’s important to use an appropriate-sized arm cuff. Whether medicine is also recommended depends on your blood pressure reading and your risk of developing problems such as heart attacks or strokes. It often has no symptoms, but is a major risk for heart disease and stroke. And these diseases are among the leading causes of death in the United States. BP is a systolic pressure ranging from 120 to 129 mm Hg and a diastolic pressure below (not above) 80 mm Hg. Elevated blood pressure tends to get worse over time unless steps are taken to control blood pressure. Elevated BP may also be called.
Blood pressure measurement higher than 180/120 mm Hg is an emergency situation that requires urgent medical care. If you get this result when you take your BP at home, wait five minutes and retest. If your blood pressure is still this high, contact your doctor immediately. If you also have chest pain, vision problems, numbness or weakness, breathing difficulty, or any other signs and symptoms of a stroke or heart attack, call 911 or your local emergency medical number.
If your BP is consistently above 140/90mmHg (or 135/85mmHg at home) and your risk of other problems is high – you’ll be offered medicine to lower your blood pressure, in addition to lifestyle changes. if your blood pressure is consistently above 160/100mmHg – you’ll be offered medicine to lower your BP, in addition to lifestyle changes.
As you regularly increase your heart and breathing rates, over time your heart gets stronger and pumps with less effort. This puts less pressure on your arteries and lowers your blood pressure. If finding 40 minutes at a time is a challenge, there may still be benefits when the time is divided into three or four 10- to 15-minute segments throughout the day.
Cut your salt intake to less than 6g (0.2oz) a day, which is about a teaspoonful – find out how you can reduce the amount of salt in your diet
Eat a low-fat, balanced diet – including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables; get tips on eating more healthily
Be active – read some tips about getting more exercise
Cut down on alcohol – get tips on cutting down, including downloading a drinks diary and keeping track of your drinking
Lose weight – find out what your ideal weight is using the BMI healthy weight calculator and read advice about losing weight if you’re overweight
Drink less caffeine – found in coffee, tea and cola
stop smoking – get help quitting
Home monitoring is an important way to confirm if you have high blood pressure, to check if your blood pressure treatment is working or to diagnose worsening high BP.
Home BP monitors are widely available and inexpensive, and you don’t need a prescription to buy one. Home BP monitoring isn’t a substitute for visits to your doctor, and home BP monitors may have some limitations.
Make sure to use a validated device, and check that the cuff fits. Bring the monitor with you to your doctor’s office to check its accuracy once a year. Talk to your doctor about how to start checking your blood pressure at home.