All About Blood Pressure
Sodium can really add up over the course of your day. It's not hard to imagine eating these three meals, which deliver more than three times the recommended daily sodium intake of 1,500 milligrams.
2 slices whole wheat toast with jam: 307mg
2 slices bacon: 370mg
2 large eggs: 358mg
2 slices deli turkey: 508mg
1 slice provolone cheese: 249mg
2 slices whole wheat bread: 292mg
1 tablespoon light mayo: 78mg
1 teaspoon mustard: 57mg
1 cup minestrone: 698mg
Spaghetti and Meatballs
1 cup spaghetti: 325mg
1/2 cup marinara sauce: 527mg
4 meatballs, made with seasoned bread crumbs: 743mg
2 tablespoons low-fat ranch dressing: 330mg
How Low Should You Go?
Blood pressure is expressed as a ratio.
Systolic, the top number, is the pressure in your blood vessels while your heart contracts to pump blood to your body.
Diastolic, the lower number, represents the pressure when your heart relaxes between beats.
If your blood pressure is 90/60 to 119/79, that's considered normal. If you're 120/80 to 130/89, that's called pre-hypertensive and you should be monitored carefully. Once you hit 140/90, you officially have hypertension and need treatment.
You can add years to your life by reducing your blood pressure. Current guidelines say 120/80 is optimal, but many experts believe 115/75 is even better. You should aim for 115/75, says Dr. Roizen. That's backed up by the results of a landmark study involving more than 20 million people in 52 countries. "The good news is that we can get almost everyone to 115/75 now using a combination of lifestyle changes and medication," he says.
Hypertension and Pregnancy
Up to 8 percent of pregnant women get hypertension, which can be extremely dangerous for mom and baby. It's increasing as women are getting heavier and having babies later.
- Gestational hypertension, which usually develops after the 20th week of pregnancy, can cause premature delivery and puts you at risk for stroke or cardiac arrest. It also makes you more likely to develop heart or kidney disease later in life. It's usually controlled with medication or by delivering the baby.
- Preeclampsia, a more serious condition that can happen if you're over 40 or carrying twins or triplets, prevents the placenta from getting enough blood, depriving the fetus of oxygen and vital nutrients. Besides premature delivery, it can lead to rupture of your liver, kidney failure, hemorrhage, stroke, or even death. The only cure is delivery.