A person's blood pressure measures the pressure of the blood within the arteries. This pressure is produced by the heart beating.
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Standard Systolic Pressure
Systolic pressure is the first number given with blood pressure and measures the highest pressure right after the heart contracts. For both men and women, a normal systolic blood pressure is below 120. A systolic blood pressure 120 to 139 is considered prehypertension, 140 to 159 is in Stage 1 hypertension, and 160 or more is Stage 2 hypertension.
Standard Diastolic Pressure
Diastolic pressure is the second number given with blood pressure and measures the lowest pressure right before the heart contracts. For both men and women, a normal diastolic blood pressure is below 80. A diastolic blood pressure 80 to 89 is considered prehypertension, 90 to 99 is in Stage 1 hypertension, and 100 or more is Stage 2 hypertension.
Variations with Exercise
Exercise will increase your blood pressure as your heart works harder. In men, the increase is greater. This difference becomes especially pronounced with age.
A high blood pressure can greatly increase a person's risk of a heart attack or stroke. Unfortunately, there are not always symptoms of high blood pressure until it is very far along, so it is best to maintain regular check-ups to keep an eye on your level.
Both men and women should work to keep their blood pressure within the normal range by adopting a healthy lifestyle. Steps to bring down a high blood pressure should include losing any extra pounds and keeping them off, exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet (watch fat and cholesterol especially), reducing intake of sodium and alcohol, avoiding tobacco and caffeine, and decreasing your stress level.
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