Gateau Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine

May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month

by Elizabeth Hayden, PTA, May 3, 2016

Startling statistics:

  • 1 in 3 American adults, almost 67 million people, have high blood pressure
  • Only about half of the people with high blood pressure have their condition under control
  • In 2010, over 360,000 US deaths included high blood pressure as a primary or contributing cause – that is over 1,000 deaths PER DAY!

What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure readings consist of two numbers – systolic pressure (top number) and diastolic pressure (bottom number). Systolic blood pressure measures the amount of force in the blood vessels when your heart contractions, while diastolic pressure measures the amount of force in the blood vessels when your heart relaxes. Your blood pressure will change with your activity level. If you are exercising or exerting yourself, your blood pressure will increase. If you are resting, your blood pressure should decrease. "Textbook" blood pressure is accepted as 120/80 mmHg, however speak with your doctor to see what your recommended blood pressure should be.

What if my blood pressure is high?
If your blood pressure is above 140/90 at rest you are classified as having hypertension, the medical term for high blood pressure. You should schedule a follow up with your doctor concerning your blood pressure and you may be prescribed medication. Luckily, there are many simple lifestyle changes you can make to help lower your blood pressure including lowering sodium intake, increasing exercise activity, decreasing stress, quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy body weight.

How does blood pressure affect my health?
Increased pressure in blood vessels for a long period of time can lead to hardening and even rupturing of arteries. High blood pressure also makes your heart have to work harder to circulate blood throughout your body. High blood pressure is a risk factor for many conditions including stroke, heart attack, heart disease, eye damage and kidney disease – just to name a few.

How does exercise help to lower blood pressure?
Exercise helps to strengthen and condition your heart. If your heart is stronger, it will take less effort to pump blood through your body thus lowering your blood pressure. This physiological change does not happen overnight, the American Heart Association recommends 5 sessions of 30 minutes of exercise per week and it can take a few months for your blood pressure to decrease. Always check with your doctor first before starting an exercise program.

Both our PT practice and the Medically Oriented Gym can assist in you in achieving a more active lifestyle and lower blood pressure. Please contact one of our offices today for a free consultation!