Now that Spring is beginning to make itself felt across the country, you can now get outside and begin working on getting more activity, while enjoying the sun and warming weather. People that know they need to become more active because of yearly visits to their physicians who warn them that their current lifestyle is not providing enough physical activity to get their blood pressure under control. If you don’t know what your numbers are, you should not wait to find out after you’ve experienced a medical incident. Make an appointment with your physician and get an overall physical and let them tell you the results of how you fare and what if anything you need to be aware of.
High blood pressure or hypertension (blood pressure greater than 140/90 over a period of time) affects nearly 78 million Americans. Although it’s the leading cause of death worldwide (13 percent), about 30 percent of adults don’t even know they have high blood pressure. Many of those who are aware aren’t taking control of their disease. If left untreated, hypertension can increase your risk for heart attacks, strokes, and peripheral arterial disease (decreased blood flow usually to the legs and feet).
If after visiting your physician and you are told that you indeed are part of those 78 million you need to not only work at getting your blood pressure under control but you also need to monitor it so you can react if your blood pressure rises or falls so that you can take necessary action.
Using a home blood pressure monitor is a good idea so that you can track your blood pressure on a regular basis. Your doctor can advise you how often you should check your pressure and what to do if it rises or falls. One such monitor that can easily be used is the LifeSource UB351 Automatic Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor It is a wrist based monitor that will alert you of the presence of an irregular heartbeat and provides blowrist-based and pulse rate measurements even if an irregular heartbeat occurs. It can also calculate the average of the total readings stored in its memory; a convenient way to get a snapshot of your measurements over time and provide you with an average of just what your blood pressure is over a specific timeframe.
How to use a home blood pressure monitor
Be still. Don't smoke, drink caffeinated beverages or exercise within 30 minutes before measuring your blood pressure. Empty your bladder and ensure at least 5 minutes of quiet rest before measurements.
Sit correctly. Sit with your back straight and supported (on a dining chair, rather than a sofa). Your feet should be flat on the floor and your legs should not be crossed. Your arm should be supported on a flat surface (such as a table) with the upper arm at heart level
Measure at the same time every day. It’s important to take the readings at the same time each day, such as morning and evening. It is best to take the readings daily however ideally beginning 2 weeks after a change in treatment and during the week before your next appointment.
Take multiple readings and record the results. Each time you measure, take two or three readings one minute apart and record the results. If your monitor has built-in memory to store your readings, take it with you to your appointments. Some monitors may also allow you to upload your readings to a secure website after you register your profile.
So just what are the numbers to be aware of? We have them listed Below:
NORMAL LESS THAN 120 and LESS THAN 80
ELEVATED 120 – 129 and LESS THAN 80
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
(HYPERTENSION) STAGE 1 130 – 139 or 80 – 89
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
(HYPERTENSION) STAGE 2 140 OR HIGHER or 90 OR HIGHER
If you get a high blood pressure reading:
A single high reading is not an immediate cause for alarm. If you get a reading that is slightly or moderately higher than normal, take your blood pressure a few more times and consult your healthcare professional to verify if there’ s a health concern or whether there may be any issues with your monitor.
If your blood pressure readings suddenly exceed 180/120 mm Hg, wait five minutes and test again. If your readings are still unusually high, contact your doctor immediately. You could be experiencing a hypertensive crisis.
If your blood pressure is higher than 180/120 mm Hg and you are experiencing signs of possible organ damage such as chest pain, shortness of breath, back pain, numbness/weakness, change in vision, difficulty speaking, do not wait to see if your pressure comes down on its own. Call 9-1-1!
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the American College of Sports Medicine all recommend at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of both for adults.
Intensity – Exercise at a moderate level. Use the “talk test” to help you monitor. For example, even though you may notice a slight rise in your heart rate and breathing, you should be able to carry on a conversation while walking at a moderate pace. As you walk faster, you will begin to breathe faster and have difficulty talking. At that point, you’ve achieved moderate intensity or “somewhat hard.” Vigorous exercise causes a large rise in heart rate and breathing. At this intensity, it would become difficult to talk. Most people would rate this as “hard to very hard.”
Time – Exercise 30-60 minutes per day. You can do it all at once or break it up into a few sessions of at least minutes each.
Type – Do rhythmic exercises using the large muscle groups. Try brisk walking, cycling, and swimming. Choose activities you enjoy and will do regularly in your new, more active
lifestyle. Add variety depending on the day or the season to keep your program more enjoyable.
Start by exercising on your own. Begin walking or another form of activity that you can integrate into your daily routine.
Do rhythmic exercises using large muscle groups:
Try brisk walking, cycling, and swimming. Choose activities you enjoy and will do regularly in your new, more active lifestyle. Add variety depending on the day or the season to
keep your program more enjoyable. All you really need, though, is a good pair of shoes
to get started walking. Use a Pedometer or other activity tracker to monitor your progress. Slowly work toward a goal, like maybe 10,000 steps per day.
If you have been inactive for a long time, start with short sessions (ten to 15 minutes). Add five minutes to each session, increasing every two to four weeks. Gradually build up to being active 30 minutes a day for most days of the week. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after exercise, especially if you plan to exercise on a hot day or for a
long time. Always cool down slowly.
If possible, measure your blood pressure before you exercise. Do not exercise if your resting systolic blood pressure (the top number) is greater than 200 or your diastolic blood pressure
(the bottom number) is greater than 115. Contact your doctor!
So, getting back to where we started, now that you have some beneficial information about how and why you check your blood pressure. It's important that "Knowing" your numbers and keeping them in line will allow you to help yourself by being more active and getting your body in better shape.
And what better time to get started then in the Spring of the new year? By walking at a brisk pace, eating healthy, lowering your stress all these things combined can help keep you living a more healthy and active life for years to come!