What is Normal Blood Pressure, and Can Mine Be Lowered?
Feb 06, 2020
Blood pressure is one of the main numbers to pay attention to for a healthy heart. Knowing your numbers—including what a normal blood pressure looks like—can help you know when changes need to be made.
What are Normal Blood Pressure Numbers?
There are two numbers used to measure your blood pressure.
The top number is your systolic blood pressure, the amount of pressure in your arteries when your heart muscle contracts. The bottom number is diastolic blood pressure, the amount of pressure between heartbeats. Blood pressure readings are also expressed in “milliliters of mercury” or mmHg.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), blood pressure numbers can fall into one of five categories:
- Normal: less than 120/80 mmHg
- Elevated: 120-129 systolic and less than 80 diastolic
- High blood pressure (hypertension) stage 1: 130-139 systolic or 80-89 diastolic
- High blood pressure (hypertension) stage 2: 140 or higher systolic or 90 or higher diastolic
- Hypertensive crisis: higher than 180 systolic and/or higher than 120 diastolic
As you can see, a normal blood pressure reading is less than 120/80mmHg. Anything above these top and bottom numbers are considered “elevated” or worse. If your numbers are at the level of hypertensive crisis, you should call 911 right away.
The top number, your systolic blood pressure, is typically the most important when looking at the risk factors for heart disease. However, elevated diastolic blood pressure is still a cause for concern.
It’s important that you know your numbers and get them checked regularly. From there, you can know if you need to see your doctor and make any lifestyle adjustments.
Common Causes of High Blood Pressure
There are a number of factors that play a role in blood pressure readings, and some require further research. That being said, here are some of the most common contributors for many people:
- Being overweight or obese
- Being physically inactive
- Eating too much salt
- Excessive stress
- Drinking too much alcohol (over 1-2 drinks per day)
- Sleep apnea
- Thyroid or adrenal disorders
Genetics and having a family history of high blood pressure can also contribute to your risks and make it more difficult to maintain normal numbers.
Is It Possible to Lower Blood Pressure to Normal?
Thankfully, there are ways you can help control your blood pressure numbers. According to Mayo Clinic, these lifestyle shifts may help lower blood pressure without the need for medication.
Losing Weight or Controlling Your Weight
Increasing weight often correlates with increased blood pressure. Even losing a small amount of weight can help lower your blood pressure numbers to get them closer to the normal range.
Maintaining healthy lifestyle choices is also important so that you don’t gain the weight back or carry too many pounds around your waist (which also increases your risk of high blood pressure).
Don’t underestimate the power of a healthy diet to support normal blood pressure ranges. Focus on whole foods like:
- Vegetables and fruits
- Whole grains
- Low-fat dairy products
- Healthy fats
- Lean proteins and plant-based proteins like beans and legumes
Eating foods with potassium may also help, as potassium can help balance out the effects of excess sodium intake.
Getting Regular Exercise
If you already have elevated or high blood pressure, regular exercise can help lower your numbers or prevent hypertension. Learn more about getting enough exercise here.
Reducing Your Sodium Intake
Many of us are getting too much sodium from packaged and processed products. Reducing your sodium intake even a little bit can help reduce your blood pressure. Guidelines typically recommend less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day—and as little as 1,500 mg or less for many people.
Smoking increases your blood pressure for several minutes after each cigarette. Quitting completely is the best way to prevent regular blood pressure spikes over time.
Other things you can do to help achieve a normal blood pressure reading include:
- Reducing emotional stress as much as possible
- Limiting your alcohol intake
- Reducing your caffeine intake
- Seeing your doctor and regularly checking your blood pressure at home
- Getting support from friends and family to help you make healthy changes
For additional heart health support, check out our cardiovascular health concern products here.
Normal Blood Pressure is Possible
Many times, blood pressure can be lowered through healthy lifestyle changes. Talk to your doctor and try the tips above to make sure you are giving your blood pressure and heart health the daily love they need.