Blood Pressure and Your Heart

High blood pressure (HBP) affects roughly one in every three American adults—about 76 million people! Also known as hypertension, this “silent killer” often displays no symptoms, and it raises the risk for heart attack, stroke and kidney failure.
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This silent killer often displays no symptoms.

Understanding Blood Pressure

With each heartbeat, blood is pushed through arteries and veins, carrying oxygen and nutrients to every part of the body. Blood pressure measures the force of blood against artery walls and is recorded as two numbers. The first (or top) number is the systolic pressure when the heart beats. The second (or bottom) number is the diastolic pressure that occurs between beats when the heart is resting and refilling.


Blood Pressure Categories (as defined by the American Heart Association): 

  • Normal: less than 120/80mm Hg
  • Pre-hypertensive: 120-139 systolic or 80-89 diastolic
  • HBP: 140+ systolic or 90+ diastolic
  • Hypertensive crisis (emergency care needed): 180+ systolic or 110+ diastolic


What Can Increase Your Risk?

  • Genetic factors — having relatives with high blood pressure;  being African American
  • Underlying health issues —  having diabetes or kidney disease
  • Unhealthy lifestyle —being overweight, smoking, eating a high sodium/salt diet, inactivity, excessive alcohol use

Steps to Controlling Blood Pressure

HBP is often diagnosed over time, after several high readings. Your medical doctor will assess your risk and prescribe the best course of action to get your pressure under control.  But there are some steps you can take to lower your risk:

  • Monitor blood pressure routinely
    • Stop at a self-serve kiosk to get an approximate reading
    • Visit your Giant Eagle® pharmacist, who is trained to do blood pressure checks; higher-than-usual readings should be evaluated by your doctor
  • Adopt a healthy lifestyle
    • Aim for a healthy body weight
    • Assess your physical activity — the AHA recommends at least 30 minutes of exercise each day
    • Avoid tobacco smoke
    • Limit alcohol to one drink a day, or none if you are on certain medications
    • Follow your doctor's advice for medications to control your blood pressure
    • Follow a heart-healthy diet, with limited salt, saturated and trans fat, built around a base of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, low-fat dairy and protein

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Brought to you by the Registered Dietitians at Giant Eagle® and Market District®