While certain groups are at a higher risk of developing high blood pressure, such as the elderly and those of African American descent, it can effect anyone at any age. About one out of three adults has high blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with about 10 percent of those under the age of 34. As a 20 year old, having a healthy blood pressure can keep your heart healthy.
Blood Pressure Measurements
Your blood pressure is the measurement of the force of blood against your artery walls. It includes two numbers, the systolic and the diastolic. The systolic blood pressure is the top number and measures the pressure when your heart is beating. The diastolic blood pressure is the bottom number and measures the pressure in between beats when your heart is at rest. Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury, or mm Hg.
Healthy Blood Pressure
A healthy blood pressure for a 20 year old should be less than 120 mm Hg/80 mm Hg. While your blood pressure can vary throughout the day, maintaining it within the healthy range reduces your risk developing complications related to high blood pressure such as a heart attack or stroke. If your blood pressure ranges from 120 to 139 mm Hg/80 to 80 mm Hg, you are considered to be prehypertensive and more likely to develop high blood pressure if you do not take steps to prevent it. A blood pressure measurement of 140 mm Hg/90 mm Hg is considered high blood pressure.
Making healthy lifestyle choices can prevent you from developing high blood pressure. One of the most important things you can do to help you maintain a normal blood pressure is to follow a healthy diet that is low in sodium and rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean sources of protein and low-fat dairy foods. Regular physical activity also helps keep your blood pressure within an acceptable range. Following a healthy diet and exercise program can also help you maintain a healthy weight, which also helps control blood pressure. It also helps if you develop techniques to help you manage your stress. And if you smoke, quit.
The DASH, dietary approaches to stop hypertension, diet is a healthy eating plan you can follow to prevent you from developing high blood pressure. The diet is low in sodium, total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol, and high in nutrients that can help lower blood pressure, including potassium, magnesium, calcium and fiber. The diet encourages you to eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and low-fat dairy products. It also recommends you choose more lean sources of animal protein, such as fish and poultry, but limit your intake to 6 oz. or less a day.