Hypertension Awarenss Month

Have you been told you have hypertension and wondered what that means?

Hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure and for the month of May, we are spreading awareness.

Over 7.2 million Canadians have hypertension, and 7.5 million more have high blood pressure that will lead to hypertension without preventative action.

It is important to know what your blood pressure number is but most importantly, understanding what each number means.

Blood pressure is measured with two numbers:

  • Systolic (the higher number) this occurs when your heart contracts.
  • Diastolic (the lower number) this occurs when your heart relaxes and fills with blood.
  • Example: 120/80

Blood pressure is measured using millimeters of mercury (mmHg), which is a standardized measurement of pressure.

The higher the systolic or diastolic blood pressure, and the longer it stays high, the greater the potential damage to the blood vessels.

Your blood pressure should be less than 140/90 mmHg

Low Risk Moderate Risk Elevated risk
Less than 120/80 mmHg 121/80 to 139/89 mmHg More than 140/90 mmHg

If you have diabetes, you are more likely to have high blood pressure and you should aim for a blood pressure less than 130/80 mmHg.

Now that you know what hypertension means and what numbers you should aim for, now let’s look at what you can do to manage your blood pressure.

  1. Eat a healthy diet
    1. A healthy diet is key and a great place to start is the DASH Diet (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension). It is similar to Canada’s Food Guide and has shown to improve blood pressure.
    2. The DASH Diet consists of vegetables, fruit, low-fat milk products, lean meats, whole grains, legumes, fish and nuts.
  2. Limiting salt intake
    1. Salt (sodium) makes your body retain water. If you consume too much, the extra water stored in the body raises your blood pressure.
    2. Cutting back on salt is one of the best ways to lower your blood pressure, especially if you have been diagnosed with hypertension.

**Buy products that are labelled ≤5% daily value of sodium

How much salt is too much?

  Milligram (mg) of salt per serving % of salt per serving
Too  Much >360 ≥15%
Watch Out 121-360 6%-14%
Go Ahead 0-120 0%-5%

Aim to reduce your salt intake to 2,000 mg per day

  1. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle
    1. Achieving a healthy weight is key to maintaining a healthy blood pressure and both a healthy diet and regular exercise are essential.
    2. Losing weight is challenging, so speak to your healthcare professional about the Upper Grand Family Health Team services to access a Registered Dietitian or a Registered Kinesiologist.
  2. Managing stress levels
    1. We all go through stressful periods, which can take a toll on our mental and physical health.
    2. The key is to have effective ways to cope with stress to help reduce its effect on you.

See ways to distress HERE

  1. Limiting alcohol consumption
    1. Reducing your alcohol consumption can help reduce blood pressure (BP).
    2. Consuming no more than 2 drinks per day can potentially drop your systolic BP by 3.9 mmHg and diastolic BP by 2.4 mmHg.
    3. It is recommended to NOT consume more than 14 standard drinks per week for men and 9 standard drinks per week for women.
Type of Drink Quantity (1 drink equals)
A glass of beer, cider or cooler 12 oz. or 341 mL of beer with 5% alcohol content
A glass of wine 5 oz. or 142 mL of wine with 12% alcohol content
A glass of spirits (rye, gin, rum etc.) 1.5 oz. or 43 mL of 40% distilled alcohol content
  1. Refraining from smoking
    1. It is hard to quit smoking but one of the best things you can do for your heart health.
    2. It can take several attempts to quit, so don’t be discouraged if you need to try more than once.
    3. Talk to your healthcare professional about the Upper Grand Family Health Team smoking cessation services. 


For more information visit Hypertension Canada






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