Your blood pressure reading of 122/80 mmHg falls into the normal range according to the American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines. Here’s what the ranges typically look like:
Normal: Less than 120 over less than 80
Elevated: 120-129 over less than 80
High blood pressure (hypertension) stage 1: 130-139 over 80-89
High blood pressure (hypertension) stage 2: 140 or higher over 90 or higher
Hypertensive crisis: higher than 180 over higher than 120
Please note that these are general guidelines and individual targets may vary, especially depending on existing health conditions. You should always consult with your doctor or a healthcare professional for personalized advice regarding your blood pressure.
how to measure your blood pressure
- Purchase a monitor: You can get a home blood pressure monitor from a pharmacy or an online retailer. Make sure to get one that fits around your upper arm for the most accurate reading.
- Sit comfortably: Before taking your blood pressure, make sure to sit in a comfortable chair, feet flat on the floor, for at least five minutes to let your body settle. Don’t smoke, drink caffeinated beverages or exercise within 30 minutes before measuring your blood pressure.
- Position your arm: Put your arm on a flat surface like a table, with the upper part of your arm at heart level. Place the cuff on your arm according to the device instructions—usually, the cuff is placed so that the sensor lies over the brachial artery which is on the inside part of the elbow.
- Take a reading: Follow the instructions on your monitor to take a reading. Most devices will inflate the cuff and then slowly let air out while measuring your blood pressure.
- Record the results: Many home monitors will display a series of numbers, including your systolic pressure (the top number, or the pressure in your arteries while your heart is beating), and your diastolic pressure (the bottom number, or the pressure in your arteries while your heart is at rest between beats). Write these numbers down to share with your doctor.
- Take multiple readings: It’s a good idea to take multiple readings at different times of the day. Your blood pressure can fluctuate based on a variety of factors, including stress, diet, and sleep.
Remember, if you consistently get readings that are high, it’s important to speak to your doctor. They can help determine if you have high blood pressure and suggest treatment options.
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There are certain types of food that can help control blood pressure
Following a heart-healthy diet such as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet can be beneficial. Here are some examples of foods that can help control your blood pressure:
- Fruits and Vegetables: They are high in potassium, magnesium, and fiber which can help lower blood pressure. Try to include a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet like bananas, oranges, spinach, kale, and sweet potatoes.
- Whole Grains: Foods like whole grain bread, brown rice, oatmeal, and quinoa are good sources of fiber and can help control blood pressure.
- Lean Proteins: Fish, especially fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids which can lower blood pressure. Lean meats like skinless chicken and turkey are also good options.
- Dairy: Low-fat dairy products, such as skim milk and yogurt, are good sources of calcium and can help maintain a healthy blood pressure.
- Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, and flax seeds are rich in magnesium and can help lower blood pressure.
- Legumes and Pulses: Foods like beans, lentils, and chickpeas are high in fiber and can help manage blood pressure.
- Garlic and Herbs: Garlic has been found to lower blood pressure, and using herbs and spices instead of salt can also help control your blood pressure.
- Dark Chocolate: Dark chocolate and cocoa powder are rich in flavonoids, which can lower blood pressure.
Remember, it’s not just about adding these foods to your diet but also reducing your intake of foods high in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. It’s important to remember that everyone’s body responds differently to certain foods, so it’s a good idea to talk with a doctor or dietitian for personalized advice.
What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the force that your blood exerts on the walls of your arteries as it flows through them. It's measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and is given as two numbers—for example, 120 over 80.
What do the two numbers in a blood pressure reading mean?
The first (or top) number is your systolic pressure. It's the highest level your blood pressure reaches when your heart beats. The second (or bottom) number is your diastolic pressure. It's the lowest level your blood pressure reaches as your heart relaxes between beats.
What is considered a normal blood pressure reading?
As per the American Heart Association, a normal blood pressure is less than 120/80 mmHg.
What is high blood pressure (hypertension)?
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is typically defined as a blood pressure reading of 130/80 mmHg or higher, taken on at least two occasions.
What causes high blood pressure?
There are many factors that can increase your risk of high blood pressure, including age, family history, not being physically active, eating a diet high in sodium and low in potassium, drinking too much alcohol, smoking, stress, certain chronic conditions, and being overweight or obese.
What are the symptoms of high blood pressure?
High blood pressure is often called the "silent killer" because it usually has no noticeable symptoms. That's why it's so important to get your blood pressure checked regularly.
How can I lower my blood pressure?
Lifestyle modifications are crucial. This includes eating a healthy diet (like the DASH diet), limiting sodium intake, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, limiting alcohol intake, not smoking, managing stress, and taking prescribed medications as directed.