Facts about blood pressure
- Blood pressure is the force in your blood vessels, which is necessary to carry blood around your body. There are no symptoms of high blood pressure, so it is important to check your blood pressure regularly.
- For most people living with cardiovascular disease, the recommended resting blood pressure is less than 140/90 mmHg.
- For most people living with diabetes or chronic kidney disease, the recommended resting blood pressure is less than 130/80 mmHg
- For most adults over 80 years old, the recommended resting blood pressure is less than 150 mmHg systolic blood pressure.
- When taking your resting blood pressure, find a comfortable/calm place and rest quietly for at least 5 minutes. Sit with your feet flat on the floor, with your arm at heart level. Take your blood pressure two to three times. If your average blood pressure is above the recommended target, speak to your doctor.
Complications of high blood pressure
- Cardiovascular disease (heart & arteries): Over time, high blood pressure can damage the blood vessels in your heart and the rest of the body. When the blood vessels are damaged, blood pressure becomes harder to manage, and the risk of developing plaque in the arteries increases. When plaque develops in the arteries, it can reduce blood flow to major organs, and increase your risk of heart and vascular disease. High blood pressure also causes the heart to work harder and may strain the heart muscle walls and lead to heart failure. For more information on heart failure, visit our Heart Failure section.
- Kidney damage: The kidneys have tiny blood vessels which help keep our body in balance. Over time, high blood pressure can damage these blood vessels, which can upset our body’s natural balance.
Improving blood pressure control
- Regular physical activity and exercise: Aim for 150 to 300 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise each week and resistance training a minimum of twice per week.
- Healthy eating: Foods high in salt/sodium can increase your blood pressure. Monitor your salt intake by including unprocessed foods, whole-grains, fruits and vegetables in your diet. Reduce processed foods, take-out, and foods with added salt/sodium.
- Reduce stress: Some people find yoga class, meditation or deep breathing helpful. Keep a diary on your night table to write down anything that is on your mind. For more information on stress, visit our Stress section.
- Reduce smoke exposure: Reducing exposure to smoke will have a positive impact on your health. When planning to reduce exposure to smoke, develop a plan and get support. For more information on smoking, visit our Smoking & Your Health section.
- Limit alcohol intake: Alcohol can increase your blood pressure. To improve your blood pressure, you may want to limit your alcohol consumption. For more information on alcohol, visit our Alcohol & Your Health section.
- Medications: Always take your medications as prescribed. If you are having trouble adhering to your medication routine, speak to your pharmacist or family doctor.
- Manage sleep apnea: Sleep apnea is a condition in which you have one or more pauses in breathing while you sleep. If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, it is important to follow the recommendations of your doctor or sleep specialist.