Understanding High Blood Pressure

Hypertension is the medical term for blood pressure (BP) that is too high. Blood pressure readings are broken down into 2 measurements: systolic and diastolic. The first number is the systolic measurement, which calculates the pressure in the blood vessels as the heart beats. The second measurement, diastolic, assesses the amount of pressure in the blood vessels when the heart rests after beating. Hypertension occurs when the measurements are higher than normal.


How is blood pressure measured?

Medical professionals calculate blood pressure using units of millimeters in mercury, which is represented by the acronym mmHg. A digital blood pressure monitor, a sphygmomanometer, or an at-home blood pressure monitor can be used to obtain a blood pressure reading. The sphygmomanometer is comprised of 3 parts: an inflatable cuff, a manometer to measure air pressure, and a stethoscope. There are multiple ranges for BP readings. Any reading below 120 is considered normal, 120-129 is elevated, and 130-139 is considered high.

Factors that lead to hypertension

Lifestyle choices and environment can both significantly impact a person’s risk of developing hypertension. Excessive weight gain that develops into obesity is a leading cause of hypertension. An unhealthy diet filled with high sodium, saturated fat, and trans-fat foods will also lead to high blood pressure. Patients with a family history of hypertension are at higher risk of developing the condition. Furthermore, lack of exercise and overconsumption of tobacco and alcohol are also high-risk factors.

Lowering blood pressure with diet

When a person is diagnosed with hypertension, doctors will prescribe medication to help lower blood pressure and urge patients to eat a healthy diet. Food has a direct impact on BP levels, and a healthy diet will improve the individual’s overall health. People with hypertension should maintain a diet low in sodium, saturated fats, sugar, and alcohol while eating plenty of whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.


The dietary approaches to stop hypertension (DASH) eating plan is a dietary meal plan developed specifically for people dealing with hypertension. The DASH food plan consists of poultry, fruit, vegetables, beans, nuts, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains. Experts also recommend daily serving sizes for each food group. On the DASH plan, individuals should eat at least 6-8 servings of whole grains daily. The plan also recommends 4-5 daily servings of fruit and vegetables. The diet includes foods high in potassium, calcium, and magnesium, which can help decrease high blood pressure levels.

Your low BP diet

Before making any significant dietary changes, a physician should always be consulted. For hypertension patients, speaking with a physician about a food plan is vital to the patient’s health. Physicians can work with patients to develop treatment plans and refer patients to dieticians to create a suitable diet plan. With the right diet, lower BP is possible.