Your veins and arteries are the highways of your heart, carrying fresh, oxygenated blood to the rest of your body while bringing deoxygenated blood back to the heart to be recycled. Blood pressure is the force in which blood flows through the arteries. It’s normal for your blood pressure to rise during strenuous activity, such as exercise, and fall when you’re resting or asleep. Consistently high blood pressure, however, means that your heart is working extra hard to pump blood around your body all the time, which can be stressful on the heart, veins, and arteries.
Under Pressure from Numbers
When the heart beats, the force it creates as blood flows through the arteries is called your systolic measurement. This is the first number you will see on blood pressure measurement (BPM) results, which is the higher number. The second number in BPM is called the diastolic measurement. This number represents the pressure exerted by blood flowing through your arteries when your heart is at rest or between beats. The average BPM should be below 120/80. Readings that are slightly higher do not necessarily mean that you have high blood pressure, but it does indicate that you have a higher risk of developing heart health challenges.
External Pressures Can Raise Your Internal Pressure
Tobacco use can contribute to an unhealthy heart and high blood pressure by narrowing the blood vessels, making it even more difficult for blood to circulate. Excessive alcohol intake (more than two drinks a day) can also raise blood pressure readings. The last factor affecting blood pressure is a big one: stress. Quitting smoking and curbing drinking habits can be manageable with the right assistance, but stress can be trickier to deal with. While avoiding all stress is impossible, relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, massage, and yoga may help ease your worries—and your heart.
Everyday Aids to Your Heart’s Roadways
There are many ways you can easily begin to protect your heart and support healthy blood pressure levels, and some tips are as easy as adding more fruit and vegetables to your meals. Fresh fruit and veggies are low in cholesterol and saturated fat, and high in potassium, magnesium, and fiber that have been linked to good heart health. The antioxidant, CoQ10, as well as omega fatty acids have also been found to promote healthy blood pressure levels and provide circulation support. Exercising is another top way to promote a healthy cardiovascular system. Gentle exercises such as walking, stretching, and swimming are all ways to keep you active and moving, which aids healthy circulation and helps the body utilize oxygen more efficiently. Check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program or ask your physician to help you find a suitable program that matches your level of fitness condition. The journey towards healthier blood pressure doesn’t require drastic measures—all it takes is better nutrition, regular exercise, and cutting back on bad habits. The benefits of consistent, healthy habits add up over time and can not only help you improve your current lifestyle, but can put you on the path towards overall better living throughout your lifetime.