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Keeping Your Blood Pressure in Check

What is blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the force of blood against the walls of your arteries. It is a necessary part of the circulatory system. Blood Pressure moves blood through your body to bring oxygen and nutrients to vital organs such as the heart and lungs.

Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers.  The first number (called systolic) is the pressure when the heart is beating. The second number (called diastolic) is the pressure between beats, when the heart is resting.

What is a healthy blood pressure?

A healthy blood pressure for an adult is less than 120 mm systolic pressure and less than 80 mm diastolic pressure, which is written as “120 over 80.”

If your blood pressure is consistently above “120 over 80,” you could have high blood pressure.

Should I be concerned about high blood pressure?

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a very serious condition. It affects nearly one in three adults in the United States, but only two-thirds of people with high blood pressure are aware they have it.

Over time, if blood is pumped too forcefully, the walls of the arteries get stretched beyond their healthy limit. This stress on the circulatory system can cause tearing and scarring, plaque build-up and blood clots, leading to:

  • Tissue and organ damage
  • Stroke
  • Aneurysm
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney failure

The good news is blood pressure CAN be controlled.

What are the symptoms of high blood pressure?

There are often no outward signs or symptoms of high blood pressure. That's why it is also called the “silent killer.”

What are the most common causes of high blood pressure?

  • A family history of high blood pressure
  • Advanced age
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Poor diet
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Stress
  • Smoking
  • Race: African-Americans, followed by Hispanics are most likely to have HBP

Does smoking affect blood pressure?

Yes. Smoking causes blood vessels to shrink and the heart to beat faster, which temporarily raises blood pressure. It also damages blood vessel walls and speeds up hardening of the arteries.

Quitting smoking is one of the healthiest things you can do.  For information to help you quit call our Healthier YOU hotline at 1-866-500-4571 (TTY 711).

Can my diet help with blood pressure?

Yes. Maintaining a proper diet is one of the best ways to control blood pressure. Here are tips that can help:

  • Eat lean meat, poultry and fish
  • Avoid processed and fast food
  • Reduce salt intake to 2/3 teaspoons per day
  • Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and healthy nuts
  • Eat legumes, like lima beans, black eyed peas and lentils
  • Eat plenty of whole grains
  • Eat low-fat or fat-free dairy products
  • Use salt-free seasonings

Can losing weight help with blood pressure?

Yes. People who are overweight or obese are twice as likely to have high blood pressure, compared to people who maintain a normal weight. Losing as little as 10 pounds can make a difference.

Will exercise help lower my blood pressure?

Yes. Regular physical activity helps you develop a strong heart that can pump more blood with less effort. This reduces the stress on arteries and lowers blood pressure. You can try walking, gardening, swimming or dancing.

How do I get started on an exercise program?

Talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise program. Start slowly, especially if you have been inactive for a while. Our Healthier YOU program can also help you stay active and eat healthy with special fitness club and Weight Watchers® benefits.

What else can I do to lower my blood pressure?

You should visit you doctor regularly, make important lifestyle changes and follow these tips:

  • Get your blood pressure checked regularly
  • Limit alcohol use
  • Look for ways to reduce stress
  • Reduce your caffeine intake
  • If prescribed, take your blood pressure medication as directed

How can Health Partners help me?

Our care managers will work closely with you to help address your medical concerns, answer questions and provide the support and encouragement you need to manage your condition. For more details call the Healthier YOU hotline at 1-866-500-4571 (TTY 711).

More information

  • Member Relations: 1-855-215-7077 (TTY 711)
  • Nurse Advice: 1-866-825-6717

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