Blood Pressure--What It Means

By Samantha Landry (Last updated December 15, 2017;
originally published February  8, 2008)
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Although almost all Americans understand the need to maintain
a normal blood pressure, most of us do not have a clue about
what blood pressure really means.  Almost none of us
understands how our arteries really work.

As a result, when our doctors give us the kind of bad news I
received ---"Your pressure is high" --we are alarmed without
being armed with the basic knowledge of what that means.  

Does high blood pressure mean you have done irreparable
damage to your arteries?  Can it be reversed?

Can you ever restore your arteries to the state they were in
when you were young?

First, and bear up, you must have a basic understanding of what
your arteries look like.


Age, fatty diets and sedentary living can deposit fatty streaks in
your arteries.  

Over time, the fat can develop fibroids, turning streaks into a
more permanent layer of fat, called an "atheroma".
Article Continues Below

Source of illustrations.

Now, here's the key point.  Arteries are arteries are arteries.
They are all the same.  They are all just pipes. Wonderfully
engineered pipes, mind you,  but pipes nonetheless.  

What makes them different is their location and where they lead
too.   In other words, Interstate 101 is the same as Interstate
202 but 101 leads to your heart and 202 leads to your brain.  

The pipes that lead to your heart are called coronary arteries.
The pipes that lead to your brain are called carotid arteries.

If a blood clot or additional thickening causes the arteries to
become totally blocked, then a stroke (in the case of the carotid
arteries) or a heart attack (if the blockage occurs in the
coronary arteries surrounding the heart) can occur.

That is the reason the eating foods that reduce your blood
pressure can also reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke and
erectile dysfunction.

Do you know your blood pressure numbers? Where do you
stand? The chart above on this page can help.

The American Heart Association recently has changed what is
considered high blood pressure. Now, any blood pressure
reading above 120/80 is considered "elevated" blood pressure.
Any reading above 130 for a systolic (top) number or any
reading over 80 for a diastolic number is officially hypertension.
What this means in practice is that your doctor will recommend
that you start blood pressure medication at a lower blood
pressure reading than was previously the case.

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Links and Resources
Top Number
120 or less
80 or less

160 OR
100 OR
Widespread obesity has led to an epidemic
of hyppertension

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