Blood pressure is fundamentally the pressure exerted by flowing blood on the walls of the arteries as pushed by the heart. Blood pressure in itself is an extremely important thing, and a human being cannot remain alive if there is no blood pressure at all. Maintaining a healthy blood pressure level is important in order to supply optimum amount of oxygen to all parts of the body. But problems start arising when blood pressure is too high or too low. Blood pressure is measured using a blood pressure monitor that contains a wrapping that is cuffed around the upper arm and is attached to a machine known as the sphygmomanometer. Blood pressure should be measured when a person is relaxed, and does not stay at the same level all the time. It keeps varying according the body’s response to emotional state, breathing, physical activities and sleep. High blood pressure is termed Hypertension, and low blood pressure is known as Hypotension. Hypertension can lead to a number of serious health issues like cardiovascular diseases, heart attack, heart failure, stroke and kidney diseases. Blood pressure is recorded in terms of systolic and diastolic pressure. Hypertension can be controlled by following a healthy lifestyle, opting for a balanced high blood pressure diet chart and daily exercise.
Systolic and Diastolic Blood Pressure
The systolic and diastolic difference is extremely simple. Blood pressure is measured in two numbers – the top number (blood pressure systolic) and the bottom number (blood pressure diastolic). When the heart beats, it thrusts the blood through the arteries by contracting, and the force created by this contraction puts a pressure on the arteries. This is called the systolic blood pressure. Diastolic blood pressure is the pressure in the arteries when the heart is at rest between two beats. The normal range of systolic blood pressure is 120 or below. Any reading below 120 is considered low systolic blood pressure. The normal range of diastolic blood pressure is 80 or less. A normal blood pressure reading should be 120/80 mmHg.
Categories of Blood Pressure Levels Measured in Millimetres of Mercury (mmHg)
Low Blood Pressure
Less than 90
Less than 60
Less than 120
Less than 80
120 to 139
80 to 89
High Blood Pressure (Stage1)
140 to 159
90 to 99
High Blood Pressure (Stage2)
160 or higher
100 or higher
Effects of High Blood Pressure or Hypertension on the Body
High blood pressure or hypertension is often called the silent killer because it shows no warning signs or symptoms and, therefore, can go untreated for prolonged period causing damage to the heart and various other parts of the body.
Damages the Arteries
One of the worst effects of high blood pressure on the body is its damaging effect on the arteries. Healthy arteries are strong, elastic and flexible. But the continuous pressure of the blood on the walls of the arteries causes various problems.
Narrowing of the artery – Continuous pressure on the inner linings of the arteries makes the walls thick and stiff which leads to hardening of the arteries, also known as arteriosclerosis. The fats consumed through the foods pass into the damaged cells of the arteries and cause atherosclerosis which cuts out blood flow to the heart, kidney, brain and limbs leading to stroke, eye damage, heart failure and kidney failure.
Aneurysm – The ceaseless pressure of the flowing blood through the damaged artery can cause a part of the wall to bulge and from an aneurysm. The aneurysm can rupture and cause serious internal bleeding.
Damages the Heart
The heart is the chief organ that pumps blood throughout the body and uncontrolled high blood pressure for prolonged periods can cause serious damage to this organ.
Coronary artery disease – In this disease, the arteries are narrowed down, which prevents the blood to flow easily through the arteries, resulting in chest pain, angina, irregular heartbeats and even heart attack. Effective home remedies for heart problems can reduce chest pain and angina.
Enlarged left heart – High blood pressure puts extra pressure on the heart muscles to pump necessary blood to various parts of the body, and this constant pressure causes the left ventricle to thicken. This condition increases the chances of heart attack and heart failure.
Heart Failure – Excessive strain on the heart for prolonged time causes the heart muscles to weaken and function less efficiently. The worn out heart muscles are at a high risk of failing.
Damages the Brain
Much of the functioning of the brain depends on the optimum blood supply to it. But high blood pressure can create several problems.
Stroke – A stroke is caused when blood supply is cut off to a certain portion of the brain leaving it deprived of oxygen and essential nutrients. Unmanaged high blood pressure weakens the blood vessels of the brain making them narrow. It can also lead to the development of blood clots in the arteries leading to the brain, stopping blood flow to the brain.
Transient ischemic attack – A transient ischemic attack is also called a mini-stroke which is caused by short-term disruption of blood supply to the brain. It is usually caused by the formation of blood clot due to high blood pressure. This is the warning sign of a stroke.
Dementia – Dementia isa brain disease that affects reasoning, thinking, vision and movement. It is often caused by narrowing of arteries that slow down blood supply to the brain. High blood pressure is one of the main causes of vascular dementia.
Damages the Kidney
The kidney is the filtering device of the body that removes excess fluid and waste from the blood. But high blood pressure can damage the blood vessels leading to the kidney and inside the kidney causing a number of kidney diseases.
Kidney failure – High blood pressure damages both the large arteries leading to the kidney and the tiny glomeruli present inside the kidney. This damage reduces the capacity of the kidney to filter waste effectively, leading to kidney failure.
Kidney scarring – Scarring of the glomeruli or the tiny blood vessels present inside the kidney is known as Glomerulosclerosis. Scarring of the glomeruli reduces the ability of the kidneys to filter waste from the blood.
Damages the Eyes
High blood pressure also damages the delicate and tiny blood vessels that supply blood to the eyes.
Retinopathy – Optimum blood supply to the eyes is the ultimate answer to the question of how to strengthen eyesight. Untreated high blood pressure damages the blood vessels supplying blood to the retina which causes bleeding in the eye that can lead to blurred vision or complete vision loss.
Choroidopathy -This is an eye condition in which fluid builds up under the retina because of leaky blood vessels present in the retina. It can result in distorted vision, scarring and vision impairment.
Optic neuropathy – This is a disease in which lack of blood flow through the blood vessels damages the optic nerves. Blocked blood flow kills the nerve cells in the eyes and leads to vision loss.
Diet Chart for High Blood Pressure
Diet plays a significant role in controlling high blood pressure because a low-calorie, healthy diet chart can work effectively in reducing body weight. It is well known that a high-sodium diet increases blood pressure, so it is important to follow a diet low in sodium. It is best to target less than 2300 milligrams or 1 teaspoon of salt every day. It is also instructed to stay away from foods high in salt like salted nuts, pickles, biscuits, crackers, baked foods, packed soups, and mixes. A high blood pressure suitable diet and exercise play a vital role in controlling hypertension.
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is extremely effective for people suffering from high blood pressure. The benefits of fruits and vegetables to lose weight are well known. Some healthy foods to reduce blood pressure are leafy green vegetables like lettuce, kale, collard greens, spinach and turnip greens all of which are rich in potassium along with fresh and juicy berries, bananas, beets, potatoes, skim milk and oatmeal.
High Blood Pressure Diet Chart
Early Morning – 1 Glass Watermelon Juice
Breakfast – Oats Upma, 1 cup grapes
Midmorning – A cup of raspberries
Lunch – 1 cup brown rice, mixed vegetable curry, corn salad, 1 banana
Evening – Tea
Dinner – 2 whole wheat rotis, 1/2 bowl channa dal, mixed vegetable curry, cucumber raita
Early Morning – 1 glass Orange Juice
Breakfast – Poha, 1 banana
Mid-Morning – 1 Apple
Lunch – 1 cup Pulav, cabbage and peas curry, mixed vegetables raita, 1/2 cup moong dal, 1 cup pineapples
Evening – 1 cup yogurt
Dinner – 2 whole wheat rotis, stir fried vegetables, 1/2 cup broad beans daal, sprouts salads, 1 glass of soy milk
Early Morning – 1 Cup Green Tea
Breakfast – Ragi dosa, sambar, 1 pear
Mid-Morning – Handful of unsalted nuts
Lunch – 1 cup of brown rice, 250 gms spicy chicken, stuffed eggplant, 1 bowl of fruit salad
Evening – 1 Cup of Green Tea
Dinner – Wheat pasta with vegetables, vegetables and lentil soup, a cup of yogurt.
Early Morning – 1 Glass of Grapefruit juice
Breakfast – All bran cereal with milk, few strawberries
Midmorning – A few dried apricots
Lunch – 2 Soy chapatis, steamed vegetables, 250 gms grilled chicken, 1 bowl of fruit salad
Evening – Banana and berry smoothie
Dinner – Brown rice with sauteed vegetables 1 cup, 250 gms baked fish, cucumber salad, a handful of cherries.
Importance of Exercise for Hypertension
When it comes to regulating high blood pressure, the incorporation of 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise every week can go a long way in maintaining a healthy body. Try to devote at last 30 minutes per day 5 times a week to workouts and never keep a gap of more than 2 days between exercise and rest days. Daily physical activities not only reduce the risk of heart attack, heart failure, kidney failure and stroke but also help in controlling obesity – one of the major causes of hypertension. In addition, exercises also help to reduce stress, one of the major factors that lead to rise in blood pressure.
Your doctor might suggest various other aerobic exercises which are best suited for your health, but one thing is for sure that you can never go wrong with walking. It is the safest form of moderate aerobic exercise that helps in lowering blood pressure and keeping it at a standard level in the long run. Get a pair of comfortable walking shoes and start walking for 15 minutes a day at whatever pace you like. As time passes by your fitness level will gradually increase, and you will be able to notch up the pace and distance of your walk. Aim for 30 minutes of walking 3 to 5 days a week. Other than walking, you can also try light indoor aerobic exercises.
Jogging and running are high-intensity aerobic exercises that can be practiced in accordance with your fitness level. Both running and jogging helps in improving cardiovascular health and maintaining healthy weight which are essential for controlling hypertension. But, it is important to consult your doctor and have through check-up before your start your jogging or running program. Start your jogging regime by brisk walking for 30 minutes for the first 6 weeks and then slowly increase the speed of the walk into light jog, alternating between walking and jogging.
Swimming is yet another relaxing and refreshing low-impact exercise that helps in alleviating stress and helps in exercising the entire body by forcing it to move forward against the resistance of flowing water. Swimming is suitable for people of all age groups. An hour of swimming can burn up to 650 calories depending on the efficiency of swimming. This activity improves endurance and strength of the heart. The best swimming technique is the butterfly stroke that uses the entire core in order to move through the water.
Bicycling is an extremely entertaining low-impact physical activity that is suitable for people of all ages. Regular cycling helps reduce the risk of hypertension, diabetes, obesity, arthritis and heart diseases. Cycling for 30 minutes every day helps in burning almost 11 pounds of fat in 1 year. It helps in improving cardiovascular health and reducing stress – both of which are essential for effective hypertension management.
So, now that you have a comprehensive idea about high blood pressure, its measurement, its effect on overall health and diet and exercise to keep hypertension under control, bring forth these changes in your lifestyle and lead a healthy and happy life.