Should I need to worry about high blood pressure?
Exercise (in particular cardio) and diet are the ingredients needed to maintain a “healthy” blood pressure. There are many reasons people develop the condition — genes may play a role. What I recommend is educating yourself on what blood pressure is and how to keep yours under control (I’m going to help with that as much as I can).
According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, 19 per cent of Canadian females age 29 to 70 have the condition (it’s 19.7 per cent for men). What’s more, a lot of people — 17 per cent, to be exact — have blood pressure issues and don’t even know it.
To see if this was true, I took a non-scientific (and random!) poll at my 6 a.m. body pump class. I asked the 30 participants if they knew what their blood pressure number was… Only three did. Many were confused about what blood pressure even is.
Blood pressure is the force (pressure) of blood against the walls of the arteries which occurs as the heart beats. Blood pressure consists of two numbers: Systolic and diastolic.
- Systolic: The pressure your heart places on the walls of your blood vessels as it beats (aka: the high number).
- Diastolic: The amount of pressure on the walls of your blood vessels between beats (aka: the lower number).
A normal blood pressure is a measurement of 120 (systolic) over 80 (diastolic) — also read as 120/80. Anything over this measurement is high. Under high blood pressure circumstances, blood vessels have very little opportunity to relax in between beats. This could cause blood vessels to swell under the stress and strain, which would then decrease the amount of blood flow to the body’s organs. If this swelling persists, the chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke goes through the roof.
Now, back to your initial question: Should you be concerned about following in your mother’s footsteps? Yes, but it sounds like you’re doing a lot to take care of your heart right now (exercise and diet). By decreasing the amount of stress you experience (stop worrying about the future!), you can cut your risk even more.
My suggestion would be to monitor your blood pressure once a month if you’re worried. There are machines in drugstores across Canada that can help you with this task. If you’re ever concerned about the numbers you see (i.e. they’re higher than 120/80), see your doctor.
Click here for 10 ways to control your blood pressure naturally.
Sarah Brown is a very healthy woman. She’s a fitness instructor at GoodLife — where she teaches Body Pump, Body Flow, Cycling, Bootcamp and yoga – and a registered holistic nutritionist.