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Live Well: All About Blood Pressure

February 2, 2024


Blood pressure measures the force of your blood against blood vessels and artery walls. Hypertension is a condition where blood pressure is consistently too high. Over time, this can cause damage to the delicate cells and tissues in your blood vessels. Untreated high blood pressure can lead to stroke, heart attack, and other serious health conditions.

What is a normal blood pressure?

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, less than 120/80 is considered low risk. Above 135+ /85+ is considered high. The top number is your systolic pressure, which measures the pressure as your heart beats and pushes blood out. The bottom number is your diastolic pressure, which measures the pressure between heart beats.

What are the symptoms of high blood pressure?

Hypertension is known as a “silent killer” because there are often no symptoms. Some people do have warning signs, though. Here are some of the more common ones:

  • Blood spots in the eyes
  • Dizziness
  • Facial flushing

Checking your blood pressure is the only way to know for sure if it is too high.

How does sodium affect blood pressure?

Sodium is an essential mineral that your body needs in small amounts. While high intakes of sodium have been linked to high blood pressure, the reason is not entirely clear.

Some experts believe it is because sodium increases water retention, which increases blood volume. However, it may also be related to increased inflammation in blood vessels.

Most people need about 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium each day, though people who are more sensitive to sodium may need to restrict further. Always check with your healthcare provider for specific health-related recommendations.

Making small lifestyle changes like reducing sodium, eating more fruits and vegetables, and getting plenty of physical activity can help you maintain healthy blood pressure levels and reduce your risk of many preventable health conditions.