Managing High Blood Pressure

         Basic Facts

  • Blood pressure is pressure of the blood in the arteries. Blood that flows through arteries easily results in normal blood pressure. When the heart faces resistance, high blood pressure results. 
  • High blood pressure can accelerate atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaque on artery walls, which increases the risk for heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, and other serious diseases.
  • Eating a healthy diet can help reduce high blood pressure.
  • More Americans visit their physician for the management of high blood pressure than for any other disease-specific reason.

High blood pressure is blood pressure that consistently measures at or above 140/90 millimeters of mercury (mm/Hg). People who have blood pressure below 120/80 mm/Hg have normal blood pressure. Blood pressure between 120/80 and 139/89 is called prehypertension. Hypertension is high blood pressure that persists over time.

It's important to prevent and treat high blood pressure. An eating plan called Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) significantly reduces high blood pressure. The DASH diet is low in saturated fat, and high in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products. 

The DASH diet can reduce systolic blood pressure (the top number) by eight to 14 mm/Hg, and reducing sodium intake can reduce systolic blood pressure by an additional two to eight mm/Hg.

Conditions Helped By Recommended Blood Pressure

Reducing high blood pressure will lower the risk for:

  • Heart attack,
  • Stroke,
  • Aneurysms and other conditions of the aorta,
  • Angina pectoris,
  • Peripheral arterial disease,
  • Atrial arrhythmias,
  • Carotid artery disease,
  • Congenital heart disease,
  • Congestive heart failure,
  • Diabetic vascular disease,
  • Pulmonary embolism,
  • Pulmonary hypertension,
  • Kidney failure, and
  • Visceral artery conditions.

Eating to Control High Blood Pressure FAQ