Blood Pressure- What is it? What can I do about it?

By our very own Will Dutt! 

We all know how important it is to do everything we can to look after our blood pressure. High blood pressure is the leading cause of death, not only in Australia but the entire world, read on to understand the science behind it!

Blood pressure is the amount of forced blood ejected from the heart to the rest of the body with each heartbeat. Having high blood pressure, or hypertension, is a common risk factor for cardiovascular diseases (CVD), including heart attacks and strokes.

It is important to regularly check your blood pressure to monitor for any changes or underlying heart or vascular complications. There are two numbers you need to be aware of when looking at your blood pressure reading, your systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP). Systolic blood pressure is the pressure the heart exerts with each contraction and diastolic is the pressure the heart exerts as it relaxes. Of the two, systolic blood pressure is the more important number to keep your eye on. A blood pressure reading of 120/80 is optimal – note this can vary between person to person and depending on your level of activity.

The good news is there is a lot we can do to control or lower our blood pressure. While we can’t change our age, gender or ethnicity, we can focus on eating a whole food diet and engaging in regular physical activity.

Eating a diet which is plentiful in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains (ie – oats, quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat or rye bread) is beneficial for lowering blood pressure while reducing salt and saturated fats in our diet further lowers our risk of cardiovascular diseases. Heart healthy tip! Opt for a low-salt alternative and swap added salt for natural herbs and spices.

Aerobic exercise can reduce the rate in which our blood pressure rises and the risk of developing hypertension. This benefit can last up to 22 hours following exercise, with longer term benefits seen within 4-weeks of a regular exercise program. The key here is to be consistently active, the wise old saying “if you don’t use it, you lose it” stands true.  Aim for 20 – 30+ minutes of moderate aerobic exercise, such as walking, jogging, cycling or swimming, at least 3 – 4 days per week and don’t forget to add 1 – 2 days of resistance exercise for additional musculoskeletal benefits.

For more information chat to us and visit the Australian Heart Foundation and Better Health Channel.
Disclaimer – please consult your medical professional prior to engaging in any new dietary or physical activity programs.