Control your blood pressure

High blood pressure (hypertension) is a major risk factor for coronary artery disease that can be controlled. Normal blood pressure is a systolic blood pressure (the top number) of 120 or below and a diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) of 80 or below. A normal blood pressure is 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or below.

Blood pressures ranging from 121/81 to 139/89 are considered prehypertensive. High blood pressure is 140 or higher/90 or higher. If your blood pressure falls in the prehypertensive or high range, your doctor may suggest some or all of the following ways to lower it:

  • Follow the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. The DASH eating plan is a low-fat diet that emphasizes eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods. For more information, see:
    Click here to view an Actionset.High blood pressure: Using the DASH diet.
  • Get regular exercise. This may help control your weight and may also help reduce blood pressure.
  • Avoid drinking too much alcohol. Drinking alcohol can increase blood pressure.
  • Often your doctor will prescribe a medication to help control high blood pressure. Take your blood pressure medication exactly as directed. If you think it is causing side effects (some medications do), tell your doctor. Other medications are available.

These simple measures are sometimes enough to control high blood pressure.

For more information, see the topic High Blood Pressure (Hypertension).

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