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
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.
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:
- Stay on your medication. It keeps your pressure down. If
you go off it your blood pressure will shoot right back up.
- 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.
- Keep your alcohol and coffee consumption at a moderate level.
- 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
||Fruit juices (except tomato)
*Especially low in sodium, high in potassium, low in cholesterol
Stop Eating These Foods
|(unless "no salt added")
||Salted potato chips
|| Fatty meats
|| 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.
- Walking briskly
- Tennis (singles)
- Water skiing
- Hiking, and roller skating can really get your pressure
You must perform the activity for 20 minutes, 3-4 times a
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.