Blood pressure is the pressure exerted by blood on the walls of arteries. A sphygmomanometer is a device used to measure blood pressure. Blood pressure readings have two numbers: the greater number (written on the top) is the systolic blood pressure reading; while the lower or the number written at the bottom, is known as diastolic blood pressure reading. For e.g., the normal blood pressure is 120/80 mm Hg (or millimeters of mercury), where 120 mm Hg is the systolic blood pressure, and 80 mm Hg is diastolic blood pressure.

Depending on the readings, or rather numbers, of blood pressure, it can be diagnosed whether a person has a normal, high, or low blood pressure. Abnormally high or low blood pressure is dangerous and can give rise to several life-threatening disorders. High diastolic blood pressure is when the blood pressure rises to 90 mm Hg or higher.

» What Causes High Diastolic Blood Pressure

When the weight of the person is higher than normal, the excess fats (in the form of cholesterol) in the body get deposited along the walls of the arteries, narrowing them. Due to this, the heart has to pump harder, leading to increase in the blood pressure.

Improper Diet
Having an improper diet comprising excess fatty, salty and high cholesterol-containing foods, is another prominent cause of high blood pressure. Salty foodstuff increase the sodium levels of the blood leading to hypertension. A diet high in saturated and trans-fat can damage the blood vessels.

Smoking and Alcoholism
Increase in the blood pressure is one of the harmful effects of smoking. The nicotine present in tobacco affects the heart in many ways. It decreases the level of oxygen to the heart, increases the heart rate, and constricts the blood vessels. Excess consumption of alcohol also affects the blood pressure. Alcoholic drinks have high calories that lead to weight gain, and indirectly high blood pressure. Similarly, drugs and excess caffeine increase the risk of hypertension.

Sedentary Lifestyle
Lack of exercise affects the blood pressure in different ways. Leading a sedentary lifestyle for a long time leads to weight gain and increase in cholesterol levels. You may not be aware, but, sedentary lifestyle is one of the risk factors for a large number of illnesses, the prominent one being heart disease.

Increasing age and stress are some of the other causes of hypertension. However, these days, hypertension is also found in younger adults, because of the improper, changing, and stress-filled lifestyle.

There may be a possibility that you do not have any other risk factors, but, still have a higher diastolic pressure. You may even have a normal systolic pressure, but, higher diastolic pressure. This condition is known as isolated diastolic hypertension. Although this is not a completely dangerous situation, you need to follow measures to lower the blood pressure. This is because there may be a possibility that, over time, the systolic pressure may also increase.

» How to Lower High Diastolic Blood Pressure

In many cases, apart from frequent headache and fatigue, no prominent symptoms are observed. Therefore, it is recommended to have your blood pressure checked regularly. There are several natural methods that help in controlling high blood pressure.

Have a Healthy Diet
As you have observed that having an improper diet directly and indirectly leads to hypertension, it is wise to make changes in your diet and have healthy eating habits. You should limit the intake of foods containing high amounts of sodium, fats, and cholesterol. Include fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and healthy forms of meat in your diet. Healthy eating will help in reducing weight, and consequently, reduce the risk of high blood pressure.

Exercise Regularly
Exercising for 20-30 minutes regularly goes a long way in preventing hypertension and other disorders. You can apply for a gym membership or exercise at home using proper techniques and guidance. You can even consider alternative forms of exercises like swimming, dancing, aerobics, running, etc.

Lose Weight
If you have a higher body mass index (BMI) and excess body weight, you need to control it in order to prevent risks associated with it. Having a proper diet and exercising regularly are the best natural methods to lose weight. You need not follow any crash diet. In case you are following any fad diet, make sure you consult the doctor.

Quit Smoking
Both, active as well as passive (secondhand) smoking, are equally harmful. Therefore, you should reduce smoking and intake of alcohol to prevent high blood pressure. If you suffer from hypertension, you should quit smoking and alcoholism completely in order to prevent further complications caused due to hypertension.

Systolic hypertension is more commonly observed than diastolic hypertension; but, it should not be ignored as it can lead to diastolic heart failure. Now, if you wish to understand your blood pressure readings and what exactly do they mean in detail, here is a chart and information on the same.

» Blood Pressure Readings Explained in Detail

Systolic blood pressure is the pressure exerted when the heart muscles contract. Diastolic pressure is the pressure exerted when the heart muscles relax. When the systolic blood pressure rises to 140 mm Hg or above, a person is said to suffer from systolic high blood pressure. The following chart will help you understand high diastolic blood pressure readings:

Blood PressureSystolic PressureDiastolic Pressure
Normal120 mm Hg80 mm Hg
Pre - hypertension120 - 140 mm Hg80 - 100 mm Hg
Hypertension140 mm Hg and higher100 mm Hg and higher

High blood pressure, or hypertension, increases the risk of heart diseases (heart attack and heart failure) and stroke. It can also be one of the reasons for kidney diseases. Although hypertension is common in people above 35 years of age, there are chances of even younger people suffering from it. Older people usually suffer from systolic blood pressure, whereas younger adults suffer from diastolic blood pressure.

Following proper lifestyle habits and drug therapy can considerably help in treating hypertension. High diastolic blood pressure readings are detrimental to one's health, but, can be avoided easily by following the preventive measures. Take care!

Disclaimer: This information is not to be substituted for proper consultation and treatment. It is meant for educational purposes only.