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Formula for Calculating Blood Pressure and 5 Heart Health Facts

Image: Formula for Calculating Blood Pressure and 5 Heart Health Facts
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By Jonna Lorenz   |   Sunday, 02 Nov 2014 11:01 AM

Ever wonder how the formula for a blood pressure reading is calculated? While it's a common screening taken at almost every visit to a health care provider, many people have only a foggy notion of what it means or how it fits into a broader picture of heart health.

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A normal blood pressure reading for adults is below 120/80 measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg), according to the American Heart Association. The top number, or systolic, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats. The bottom number, or diastolic, measures the pressure in the arteries between beats, when the heart is at rest. Blood pressure can vary based on numerous factors, including stress, exercise, sleep, and posture, so monitoring it over time is recommended to get an accurate average.

Managing blood pressure is one of seven steps for improving heart health in the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 program. The other steps are: get active, control cholesterol, eat better, lose weight, reduce blood sugar, and stop smoking.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, puts too much pressure on arteries, which can cause microscopic tears. The body’s attempts to heal those tears can lead to blood clots and blockages, which can inhibit the flow of blood to vital organs and lead to such ailments as stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, and heart failure.

About 1 in 3 adults in the United States has high blood pressure, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, and the condition, known as the “silent killer” usually presents no signs or symptoms.

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According to the Mayo Clinic, the following tips can lower blood pressure.
  • Lose weight. Work with your doctor to determine a target weight and a plan for reaching it. In general, men with a waist measurement greater than 40 inches and women with a waist measurement greater than 35 inches are at greater risk of high blood pressure.
  • Get regular exercise for at lease 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week.
  • Eat a healthy diet. The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) encourages eating whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products and lowering consumption of saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium.
  • Avoid binge drinking.
  • Quit smoking and avoid second-hand smoke.
  • Monitor caffeine consumption.
  • Manage stress.
This article is for information only and is not intended as medical advice. Talk with your doctor about your specific health and medical needs.

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