Know your Numbers

Written by ryan. Posted in Uncategorized


Published on October 06, 2010 with No Comments

Do you really understand what your blood pressure numbers mean? If not, you are not alone says family physician Sujittra Niyakorn, MD.
“People want to know that their pressure is in the ‘normal’ range, but they may not fully understand what the different readings are,” Niyakorn said.
Blood Pressure Basics: When blood flows through your body, it presses on the walls of the blood vessels. This force is called blood pressure.

“We know that blood pressure tends to rise with age and it’s crucial people know what their blood pressure is. If the pressure is too high, life-threatening complications can develop,” Niyakorn explained.
Some of these conditions include stroke, heart disease and kidney or heart failure.
“Whether through diet, exercise, medication or a combination, a healthy blood pressure is 120/80 or lower,” Niyakorn added.

The Top Number: Called systolic pressure, the top number is the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats, or when your heart muscle contracts.
The Bottom Number: Called diastolic pressure, the bottom number measures the pressure in your arteries between heartbeats, or when your heart muscle relaxes.
Keeping the Numbers Down: If your pressure is above 120/80, there are several ways to keep it under control.

“Getting 30 minutes of regular aerobic exercise by walking, biking, dancing, etc., five days a week can help and may help reduce your weight as well,” Niyakorn shared. “It’s also a good idea to avoid tobacco products and excessive alcohol use, and eat foods that are low in fat and sodium.”
If your pressure is still high after making lifestyle and diet changes, medication should be used.
Ways to Five-a-Day: “Not only is eating five or more servings of fruit and vegetables a day nutritionally sound,” Porter dietitian Jill Kilhefner, RD, said. “These foods are naturally low in fat and sodium, high in fiber and can help you keep your blood pressure under control.”

Here are five good ways to get started:
– Start a new habit of adding fruits and vegetables to every meal.
– Eat fresh fruit for an afternoon pick-me-up, or make a quick smoothie with fruit and yogurt.
– Add chopped, sautéed vegetables to scrambled eggs or omelets.
– Use applesauce instead of oil in baked goods or “sneak” chopped vegetables into pasta sauce or chili.
– Visit a local farmer’s market and stock up on fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables.
For more information, call 219-263-4600, or visit

This article was supplied by Porter Health System. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of The Chronicle staff.

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