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Health Services


Your Target Heart Rate

To condition your heart and lungs, you should bring your heart rate to a certain point called the target heart rate zone. When you stop exercising, quickly take your pulse to find out your heartbeats per minute.

To get your pulse rate, count the number of beats for 10 seconds and multiply by 6. Ask your health care professional to teach you how to know if you're exercising within your target heart rate zone.

Figure your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. Your target heart rate is 50-75% of your maximum heart rate.

So, if you're 20 years old, your maximum heart rate is 200 and your target heart rate zone is 100-150.


Blood Pressure

What Is Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is the force of your blood against the walls of your arteries. It's normal for blood pressure to fluctuate: high when you first wake up or when you're nervous or excited, low during rest or sleep. That's why it takes more than one reading to determine the blood pressure that's normal for you.


What Is High Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure is when your blood pressure goes up and stays up, regardless of the time of day, your mood or activities. When cholesterol build-up causes arteries to narrow, your heart has to pump harder to push the blood through. Pressure on the artery walls is stronger and high blood pressure results.


What Causes It?

In over 90% of the cases the cause of high blood pressure is unknown. Generally, high blood pressure is more common among blacks, people who are obese, middle-aged or elderly, heavy drinkers, women who take oral contraceptives, people who take certain other drugs, and people with diabetes, mellitus, gout or kidney disease. A tendency toward high blood pressure is hereditary. If either of your parents has high blood pressure, check yours several times a year.


What Are The Symptoms?

Patients with high blood pressure can have symptoms like headaches, nausea, shortness of breath or chest pain. However, there are usually no symptoms, which is why high blood pressure is called "the silent killer". You can feel perfectly fine yet have blood pressure high enough to bring on a stroke or a heart attack. That's why it's important to have your blood pressure checked every few months.


How Is Blood Pressure Measured?

Blood pressure is measured with a sphygmomanometer - a rubber cuff attached to a pressure gauge. This cuff is wrapped around the upper arm and inflated. As the air is gradually released, the reading is taken with a stethoscope. The procedure is painless and takes only about a minute. Because pressure varies throughout the day, diagnosis must be based on several readings.


What Is A Normal Reading?

A blood pressure reading consists of two figures: The top one is your systolic pressure (pressure in the vessels during a heartbeat) and the bottom, your diastolic pressure (pressure as the heart rests between beats). A safe range for healthy adults 18-45 years of age is 100/60 to 140/90 - assuming you don't smoke, and are not overweight or diabetic or have a history of heart disease. Only your doctor can tell you what's normal for you.


If My Blood Pressure Is High, Is Treatment Necessary?

Absolutely. Untreated high blood pressure can bring on a fatal stroke or heart attack. Usually your doctor will prescribe medication. Get used to the fact that you'll be on it for life - there is no cure for this disease but medication, exercise and changes in diet can control it. If you suffer side effects, your doctor can alter the dosage, etc. Do not stop taking the pills on your own. If you do, your pressure could shoot up drastically and bring on a heart attack or stroke.


How Can I Prevent High Blood Pressure?

For starters, don't become overweight. High blood pressure is twice as common in heavy people. Switch to a low-fat diet to lower the cholesterol build-up in the arteries so the blood travels more freely. Add more calcium to your diet and, most important, throw out your salt shaker and avoid all foods that taste salty. A regular program of aerobic exercise also helps.

In addition to eating right and exercising, here are some more ways to keep your blood pressure in a safe range:

  1. Stay on your medication. It keeps your pressure down. If you go off it your blood pressure will shoot right back up.

  2. Stop smoking. Smoking and high blood pressure greatly multiply your risk of a heart attack. Smoking also reduces your response to high blood pressure medicine.

  3. Keep your alcohol and coffee consumption at a moderate level.

  4. Note to women: Birth control pills have been found to cause high blood pressure, and to raise pressure that is already high to dangerous levels. Check with your doctor before taking them.


The Top 20 Foods For Keeping Blood Pressure Down

Apples Corn-on-the-cob Potatoes*
Apricots Eggplant Raisins*
Avocado* Fruit juices (except tomato) Rice
Bananas* Honeydew melon* Squash
Broccoli Nectarines* Unsaturated oils
Brussel sprouts Oranges Watermelon
Cantaloupe* Pasta  

*Especially low in sodium, high in potassium, low in cholesterol


Stop Eating These Foods

Bacon Pickled foods Soy sauce
Canned soups Salted cheeses  
Canned vegetables Salted nuts High-fat foods:
(unless "no salt added") Salted potato chips      Butter
Catsup (ketchup) Salted pretzels      Cheese
Diet soda Sardines      Duck
Fast foods Sausage      Eggs
Ham Seasoned salts      Fatty meats
Hot dogs Shellfish      Goose
Marinated foods Smoked foods      Ice cream


If You Really Miss Salt

Experiment with fresh herbs and spices - omelets laced with basil and thyme; chicken sprinkled with tarragon, pepper and fresh lemon juice; potatoes stuffed with chives. Try one of the tasty new salt substitutes on the market.


Get Physical

  • Walking briskly
  • Jogging
  • Dancing
  • Skiing
  • Running
  • Tennis (singles)
  • Racquetball
  • Basketball
  • Squash
  • Water skiing
  • Hiking, and roller skating can really get your pressure down

You must perform the activity for 20 minutes, 3-4 times a week

NOTE: If you have high blood pressure, avoid activities requiring sudden exertion or sustained effort like isometrics, weight lifting, push-ups, boxing and sprinting. Also, stay away from competitive sports and activities involving rapid altitude changes like diving and mountain climbing. Check with your doctor before making any changes in your diet or activity.


How Do I Get My Blood Pressure Checked?

The Baruch College Health Center is a good place to start. Free, on-the-spot testing is also available all over - in mobile units set up in shopping centers, health fairs, even on city streets. Or try your local department of health for a free check-up. But remember, only your physician can both measure your blood pressure and diagnose whether the reading is normal for you.

Remember, the most important step you can take in controlling your blood pressure is to have it checked often.