Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Women's Healthy Heart Numbers (Part 1)

Over the next few days, I will deal with an important “number” each day, how to obtain the numbers, and, then, what they mean, in terms of your health. Often we hear the terms bandied about, but really do not understand them.

Let’s start with Blood Pressure. How many times have you sat in your Doctor’s office and had it done, seen them nod their heads and record it. They never tell you unless you ask or it is high enough to make the alarm bells ring! And, even if they did tell you, do you even know what they mean?
Normal   -   119/79 or less

PreHypertension   -  120-139/80-89

Stage 1 Hypertension  -  140-159/90-99

Stage 2 Hypertension  -  160+/100+

More than half of women over age 55 have high blood pressure (HBP), which often has no symptoms. HBP increases the heart’s workload, putting added strain on blood vessels and increases the chances of heart attack, heart failure, stroke, or kidney problems.

So, what exactly do all those numbers mean? The top number, is called the systolic measurement…which is the pressure against the walls of your arteries when your heart is beating. The dystolic, the bottom number, is the pressure against the walls of your arteries when your heart is at rest. So, ideally, the less pressure, the better…right? Blood pressure should be checked annually; more often if it is elevate

If you are prehypertensive, your doctor will recommend (or should) you control/reduce your weight, exercise, discontinue smoking (if you do), limit your alcohol intake and sodium intake, rather than give you medication. If you have full-blown hypertension, you will likely be given blood-pressure lowering medications as well as the lifestyle changing recommendations.

“A little knowledge is a dangerous thing - but a lot of ignorance is more dangerous.” - Unknown

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