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As we age, our doctors tell us to stay active and keep a healthy lifestyle. They take our blood pressure, recite a few numbers, and possibly talk about how to change the number. But what do those numbers mean?

Blood pressure is read as a fraction (i.e. 117/76) and is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). The top number is the Systolic and is the higher of the two. This measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats or contracts. The bottom number is the Diastolic and measures the pressure in the arteries between beats or when the heart muscles is resting and refilling with blood1.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), it is recommended to have your blood pressured screened every two years starting at age 20.1 If you are higher than the normal range of 120/80, talk with your doctor about more frequent screenings.

Below is the AHA’s blood pressure categories1

Category Systolic (upper #) Diastolic (lower #)
Normal Less than 120 And Less than 80
Prehypertension 120-139 Or 80-89
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) Stage 1 140-159 Or 90-99
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) Stage 2 160 or Higher Or 100 or higher
Hypertensive Crisis (Emergency Care Needed) Higher than 180 or Higher than 110

 

Why is knowing your blood pressure so important?

Your BP tells you if your tissues are receiving regular supplies of blood that is rich in the oxygen it needs to function.  High blood pressure (HBP) is also known as the “silent killer”. It has no symptoms. It not only damages your heart and arteries but other organs as well and can lead to serious heath problems2.  Checking your blood pressure on a regular basis to ensure it falls in a healthy range protects your entire body. Further, it reduces your risk of blood vessel walls becoming overstretched or injured, lowers the risk of a heart attack, stroke or other form of heart failure3.

Measuring your blood pressure at home with your own personal monitor is easy! Allegromedical.com carries many brands and styles including the Omron Automatic Digital Blood Pressure Monitor 10 Series+  and  Omron’s Automatic Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor. Other popular brands on AllegroMedical include HealthSmart, Mabis and Invacare. All include their own special features and cater to the user needs.  For example, some offer a larger view screen, more memory for recording past blood pressures, and irregular heartbeat detection.

To check your blood pressure allow at least 15 minutes of rest prior to the test and do not eat, drink or smoke during this time 4

1)      Make sure the cuff fits and the sensor of the bladder cuff is over the brachial artery

2)      Be still and sit with your back straight, feet on the floor, your arm should be relaxed and supported on a flat surface

3)      Take multiple readings

4)      Measure at the same time daily

5)      Accurately record all these readings and make sure to understand the readings

6)      Consult your healthcare professional if you record several high readings.

If you are using a wrist monitor

1)      Hold the arm out with the palm up

2)      The digital panel should be on the inside of the wrist5

3)      Be still and sit with your back straight, feet on the floor, your arm should be relaxed and supported on a flat surface. Make sure the wrist is at heart level

4)      Take multiple readings

5)      Measure at the same time daily

6)      Accurately record all these readings and make sure to understand the readings

7)      Consult your healthcare professional if you record several high readings.

Remember, knowing your blood pressure is a key step in maintaining a current healthy status or ensuring your readings trend in a normal range. Being physically active, eating a healthy diet low in cholesterol and not smoking all factor into heart health2. Make it a habit to take it weekly and if you fall into a higher risk category talk to your doctor about what lifestyle changes could be made.  Rely on AllegroMedical.com to be your partner and value-added source for information and products to help you manage your health and optimize your healthy lifestyle.

 

1 American Heart Association. “Understanding Blood Pressure Readings.” Understanding Blood Pressure Readings. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2013

2 American Heart Association “Why Blood Pressure Matters.” Why Blood Pressure Matters. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2013.

3 American Heart Association “What Is High Blood Pressure?” What Is High Blood Pressure? N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2013.

4 American Heart Association “How to Monitor and Record Your Blood Pressure.” How to Monitor and Record Your Blood Pressure. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2013

5 Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 20 July 2012. Web. 18 Mar. 2013.

Measuring your progress is the best way to stay on track whether you’re reducing body fat, tracking your cholesterol, testing your eyesight or monitoring your heart rate.  AllegroMedical.com has a fantastic selection of the latest diagnostic products for home or professional use.

Ekho TWO Pedometer Have you ever wanted to know how many steps you take during the day? Clip a pedometer to your belt loop and find out!  It’s a great motivator, especially if you get one that tells you how many calories you burned. Following a low-carb regimen? Keep your fat metabolism in check with ketone test strips.

 CholesTrak Home Cholesterol Test Kits Shop all  Home Test Kits including drug tests, blood alcohol tests and cholesterol checks.  Diabetics, find all of your Glucose Meters and Test Strips in our Diabetic Supplies category.

Some of the neatest gadgets on the market are the body fat analyzers and body composition scales. You just hold them, or stand on them and they send a harmless beam through you to see how much fat you have in there. Some of them even calculate your water and muscle percentages too. 

Shop all  Body Fat Analyzers and Scales

In addition to the wide selection of blood pressure monitors and thermometers to track your health, we also have some cool techno ways to monitor your heart rate during exercise… I wear one to make sure I’m staying within a good heart rate zone while I’m hiking or doing cardio.

Ekho FiT-9 Women's Heart Rate Monitor  Shop all Heart Rate Monitors

Professionals, check out our great deals on diagnostic tools such as:

And if you’re wondering what else you can possibly monitor, shop All Diagnostic Products.  Happy shopping!

Happy Heart Month!  What a blessing that just a few simple changes in your lifestyle can improve your chances of living a longer, healthier life.  The beauty is, anyone can make these changes, the steps are not expensive and even modest improvements will make a big difference.  

The American Heart Association (AMA) calls them “The Simple 7″.  Seven things you can do to reduce your chances of dying of heart disease, stroke, or other cardiac related incident.  Take it slow – start with 1 or 2.  Even small changes in lifestyle can make a big difference.

7 Steps to a Long and Healthy Life

Get Active- The AMA suggests at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise – or a combination of both.  When you break it down, that is only about 22 minutes per day of moderate exercise.  The simplest solution is to start walking.  Join AMA’s Start Walking Program to develop your walking plan.  If you are mobility-challenged or just not the outdoorsy type, there are plenty of great ways to get your heart pumping at home. 

Browse Allegro’s Fitness category for hundreds of Exercise/Fitness Products to fit any level of fitness or ability.   Sorted into helpful sub-categories.  Get instruction from books, DVDs and videos to make your home workouts even more fun!

 

Control Cholesterol- Cholesterol is in your bloodstream and your cells.  It is soft and waxy.  Too much of the ‘bad’ cholesterol, the LDL, is a bad thing.  It clogs arteries and puts you at major risk for coronary disease.  75% of cholesterol is produced by the body and the rest comes from the foods you eat.  Many people inherit the genes that make too much cholesterol so you might not be able to control it without medication. 

The AMA says “It’s important for all people to know their cholesterol level.”  Cholesterol is measured in milligrams per deciliter of blood.  A cholesterol level of 200mg/dL or higher puts you in a high risk category and you need to take action. 

Monitor your cholesterol at home with the  CholesTrak – FDA approved Total Cholesterol Device.

Cholesterol can be controlled by prescribed medication, diet and/or lifestyle changes.  The AME recommends you schedule a screening, eat foods low in cholesterol and saturated fat, skip the trans fats, maintain a healthy weight and stay active.

See all Home Test Kits

 

Eat Better- If you haven’t heard it already, you must be living under a rock.  Stop with the fast food, trans-fat laden crap and get healthy.  Eat a diet of vegetables, fruits, unrefined whole-grains, fish (at least twice a week), lean meats, poultry (without skin), fat-free/low fat dairy.  Aim for less than 1500 mgs of salt per day and less than 300 mgs of cholesterol.  Stay away from foods with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.  If you do all this, you’ll be fine.

Maybe.

Even your best intentions may need a little supplemental help from time to time. See Allegro’s large selection of Vitamins and Herbal Supplements.  I take a multi-vitamin, glucosamine and an Omega-3 tablet every day.

See all Dietary Supplements

 

Manage Blood Pressure – The AMA says that high blood pressure is the single most significant risk factor for heart disease.  The scary thing is, you can’t feel high blood pressure.  That’s why they call it “the silent killer”.    Blood pressure is exactly that – the pressure of your blood on your veins.  If it gets too high, over time it will stretch your veins and cause microscopic tears.  When the body heals these tears it creates scar tissue which can form clots, blockages, blood clots and weakened arteries leading to stroke, heart attack, kidney failure and heart failure. 

Normal blood pressure is less than 120 mm Hg systolic AND less than 80 mm Hg diastolic.  High blood pressure (hypertension) is a reading of more than 140 over 80 (140/80).

Another scary fact about blood pressure:  One in three adults have it, yet 21% don’t even know it.  And of those with high blood pressure, 69% are receiving treatment, yet, only 45% have it controlled.   Having your blood pressure checked only once in a while is dangerous.  It took years to diagnose my high blood pressure because it was only tested periodically. 

Take your own blood pressure.  It’s easy! - I highly recommend the wrist models.

See all Blood Pressure Monitors

See all Diagnostic Products

If you have high blood pressure, please read I’m off my Blood Pressure Meds.   By the way, I am still monitoring my blood pressure at home and it remains normal without medication.  I still see my chiropractor about 3 times a month and check in with my physician every 4 months.

 

Lose Weight – Are you overweight/obese?  If your body mass index (BMI) is 25.0 kg/m2 or higher, then you are among the 145 million overweight or obese Americans.  Calculate your BMI by multiplying your weight in pounds by 703, then dividing that number by your height in inches and then dividing again by your height in inches.

Reduce your risk for heart disease by losing weight and keeping it off.   My approach to weight loss is summed up in How to Not Gain Weight in 65 Days or Less and The Secret to Making Resolutions Work.

See Weight Loss Products  Please be careful if you use synthetic weight loss supplements!  Consult your physician.  My body prefers all-natural foods and supplements.  See FucoTHIN.   For tried and true weight-loss advice, read Eating for Life by Bill Phillips.

Obesity is a major, independent risk factor for heart disease.  And if you have a lot of belly fat you’re at even higher risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.  Get rid of it.

 

 Reduce Blood Sugar – Diabetes is controllable and treatable, but even so, adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have heart disease or stroke than adults without diabetes.  

The AMA says that controlling glucose levels can slow the progression of long-term complications. Often, many small changes add up to surprising improvements in diabetes control, including less need for medication.

What is Diabetes?

 How to Tell if you have Diabetes

Diagnosed Diabetic?  See our Diabetes Care Medical Supplies

 

Stop Smoking - Smoking is the most preventable cause of premature death in the U.S.  It increases the risk of heart disease, decreases your tolerance or physical activity, increases the tendency for blood to clot.  It decreases HDL (good) cholesterol.  It creates a higher risk for peripheral artery disease and aortic aneurysms.  Ick.

Quiting cigarettes is hard, even for adolescents.  How do you do it?  Here’s a 5-Step Process to Stop Smoking.  Don’t feel bad if you slip.  It’s very common.  Just try again… and again… until it works.  Don’t give up.  Look to your local resources through hospitals and hotlines for help.

Education Center for Heart Smarts

Are you a rehab specialist or physical/personal trainer?  Learn more about cardiac health and rehab, see The ABCDE’S of Cardiac Rehabilitation, Yoga for Cardiac Rehab, Cardiovascular Disease and Women, Heathy Hearts, Healthy Women and Major Cardiac Risk Factor Screening.

See all Healthy Learning books, CDs and DVDs

Anyone can learn more about health, nutrition and fitness with the Health & Fitness in Plain English book.

How prevalent are heart problems? Read Staggering Heart Facts

Are you at Risk for Heart Disease? 

Did you know that heart attack and stroke symptoms for men and women may differ? Read Heart Attacke & Stroke Warning Signs.

We hope you will take this to heart and make the changes in your life that will see you through a long, healthy life.   Read more about the  The Simple 7 on the American Heart Association’s website.

And as always, we thank you for your business – from the bottom of our hearts. (sorry, had to).

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