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For years I would get my blood pressure taken at the doctors in my regular checks, but have no idea what it meant. I would just be told that it was fine and that was it. But as blood pressure is a useful marker of health, I wanted to know a bit more. When other people told me what their blood pressure was I had no idea whether it was ‘good’ or ‘bad’ because I didn’t understand the numbers.

I knew that high blood pressure was generally a bad thing, but what started happening to my blood pressure was that it was actually getting too low and I was starting to get dizzy spells.

So I decided to go off and find out a bit more about what those numbers meant. The first, or top number, is your systolic blood pressure – the highest pressure created when you heart beats and pushes the blood around the body. The lower or second number is your diastolic blood pressure, or the lowest pressure when your heart is relaxing between beats. 

This blood pressure chart from Blood Pressure UK shows how to assess those numbers:

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Obviously it’s important to discuss things with your doctor, however I know that home blood pressure testing machines have become more popular so that readings can be taken at different times of the day, and in a more relaxing environment. Health-on-Line have provided some useful information on their blog which includes some tips for talking your blood pressure yourself.

High blood pressure is an issue because of the additional strain it puts on your vital organs such as your heart and brain. It’s even more of a problem if you have other issues such as diabetes. Being overweight, stressed and not getting enough exercise can lead to high blood pressure, as can eating too much salt, possibly from processed foods, more on this in a mo! Age and family history can also play a part (source). Even if blood pressure isn’t an issue for you now, living a healthy life will help to lower the chances of it developing as you age. If you do have it, lifestyle changes can have a big impact. I’ve also heard some good reports on the DASH eating plan. Eating all the usual healthy foods like lots of vegetables, especially leafy greens will help, also getting your antioxidants from berries and fats from almonds.

What I have noticed is that a few women my age have more of an issue with lower blood pressure. Low blood pressure in itself is not a risk (source), however the dizzy spells and feeling faint aren’t something you really want to be having to deal with all the time! I believe that active people that eat a very healthy diet high in vegetables and fruit, might actually be not getting enough salt as the main source of salt in most peoples diets is that added to processed packed foods. You can read more about salt restriction in this article from Chris Kresser.

Do you know what your blood pressure is? What is your view on salt in the diet?

*post in association with Health-on-Line  

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