Since heart disease still reigns as the number one killer of both men and women, and because hypertension and high blood pressure are a major component of cardiovascular disease, let’s look at what I call “Blood Pressure 101” – the basics of blood pressure that everyone needs to know.
Most anyone who has had a basic high school course in biology can tell you that normal blood pressure is 120/80. What does that mean? The upper number is called the Systolic number measured in millimeters of mercury on a blood pressure cuff. 120 is considered to be the normal reading. The bottom number is 80 millimeters of mercury and is called the diastolic pressure.
For all of my adult life, anything below 140/90 was considered ok – even for flying aircraft. But recently the American Medical Association has determined that 120/80 is “normal” Numbers above that are now considered “elevated” up to 129/80, stage 1 hypertension up to 139/89, and stage 2 hypertension at 140/90. They now consider you to have a hypertension crisis if your blood pressure exceeds 180/120.
Practically, what do the numbers represent? When the heart pumps it pushes blood into the arteries of the cardiovascular system at a pressure represented by the systolic number. That means the heart must be strong enough to exert that amount of pressure to get the blood flowing without causing distress to the heart itself or rupturing the vessels. The diastolic pressure then is the “resting” pressure, the least amount of pressure you’ll have in the system. If the system diastolic number is too high then the system never gets to rest. Enough pressure within either action can cause “system failure” – i.e., cardiac failure.
In a previous blog, we mentioned that the system must pump blood through 60,000 miles of blood vessels. That in itself is astounding, but I feel the need to address why being overweight is so difficult on the heart and cardiovascular system. You see, capillaries must be built to deliver water, nutrients, and oxygen to every cell in the body. And for every pound of weight we add, the number of cells we add require the building of five miles more of vessels through which those nutrients must be pumped. That adds quite a load to the pumping requirements of the heart.
And exercise is required to keep all system components strong and healthy. Many folks have caused heart failure by attempting overzealous activities straining an only moderately strong system with sudden overload!
So, if you are ready to improve your heart’s health and live longer, consider adding healthy food and some heart-healthy supplements to your daily routine, stop smoking, and maintain your weight in a healthy range. Live long and in good health. Genesis 1:29.
– Randy Lee, ND, Owner, The Health Patch – Alternative Health Clinic and Market, 1024 S. Douglas Blvd, MWC, 736-1030, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit thehealthpatch.com.