Normal Blood Pressure vs Ideal Blood Pressure

ideal blood pressure - does it exist?

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Ever worried that you don’t have normal blood pressure? Or, more specifically, that your blood pressure might be too high?

What if you don’t have normal blood pressure?

High blood pressure gets a lot of press these days and fairly alarmist press at that. It’s often darkly portrayed as the “the silent killer” waiting to pounce on its unsuspecting victims. And who wouldn’t be alarmed at that thought?

Now, I’m not saying that high blood pressure can’t be dangerous to one’s health. Nor am I trying to deny that it can easily be overlooked if you’re not looking out for it.

However, as far as I understand it, high blood pressure is not a disease as such. It’s a measurement, a sign that a body gets out of balance. Of course extremely high blood pressure is sign that your circulatory system is approaching collapse. So heed its warnings.

However, one of the key questions here is what is ‘too high’ when it comes to blood pressure? Or phrased the other way, what is normal blood pressure?

What is normal blood pressure anyway?

The former “rule of thumb” for acceptable blood pressure levels went like this:
100 (systolic) + your age.

In other words, it was accepted that blood pressure would rise as one grew older.

The new regime is much simpler. It says that 120/80 and below is OK. Up to 140/90 is “pre-hypertension”. And anything over 140/90 is hypertension. (For folk over the age of about 60, 150/90 is the new ‘normal’ – more details here: High blood pressure and the elderly)

The 120/80 is now the one-size-fits all model. “Pre-hypertension” is regularly treated with prescription medication to prevent it from turning into the dreaded “silent killer” hypertension.

The new regime has resulted in a multi-billion dollar boom to the pharmaceutical industry dealing in blood pressure-regulating medications. Which has lead some to question this shift to regulating blood pressure at lower levels: is it more motivated by profit than health?

I’ve certainly noticed that anytime I browse the web for high blood pressure articles I come across a boat-load of conformist scaremongering about so-called ideal blood pressure.

It’s as if a party line on high blood pressure had been handed out and everyone is preaching from the same sermon. The pharmaceutical bosses must be smiling themselves to sleep every night. Sales are good – and increasing.

To be fair, doctors are caught between a rock and a hard place regardless of their own professional judgment. They are bombarded almost daily by sales literature from powerful pharmaceutical companies that can and do sway the prevailing opinions of accepted medical practice. Doctors leave themselves open to malpractice litigation if they don’t follow the newly established measurements and procedures.

But there does seem to be too much emphasis on 120/80 as the ideal blood pressure.

Is there really an ideal blood pressure?

As far as I can see, a blood pressure measurement of 120/80 is not necessarily ‘normal’ – rather it’s an ideal. As such, it’s not a number that everyone can or should try to achieve. (No more than everyone should try to force their feet into the ideal sized shoe.)

If your blood pressure is consistently near to 120/80 then pat yourself on the back. It doesn’t get much better. The other 95% of us, in our 40s and above, require a blood pressure range that’s a little more flexible in order to remain in reality and avoid becoming a lifelong medication junkie.

The fact is, it’s normal to have slightly higher blood pressure levels as one ages. Welcome to the human race. What isn’t normal is to have desperately high blood pressure levels. If you’re measuring in at over 150/110 it’s time to act.

I can’t tell you what is a safe blood pressure for you. However, even if you are concerned about your blood pressure, you don’t necessarily need to go on medications. Most people can reduce their blood pressure to a healthier level through exercise and diet. And in forcing your blood pressure down with medications (and possibly suffering undesirable side effects) is not always wise. Especially considering that, statistically, more deaths occur from heart disease and stroke in people are on these medications than those who aren’t on them….!

High blood pressure medications (indeed, most medications) can have particular dangers for the elderly. Although the medical establishment is now starting to acknowledge this. More studies are coming out showing that high blood pressure medications may have quite negative effects in the elderly, such as reduced mental clarity or being more likely to fall. See our article here for more details: High blood pressure and the elderly

Still, it could be a while before a more nuanced approach is taken by all doctors… In the meantime, taking a non-drug approach to lowering your blood pressure could well be your best and safest option.


Lowering your blood pressure without medications: How I reduced mine

I brought my blood pressure from close to 200/120 down to 130/90 range in four months through diet and exercise. Six months on it is now usually below 130/90. And I’ve never felt better.

Mind you I only embarked on alternative remedies for high blood pressure after two months of medication (ACE inhibitor). That medication was a total failure for me. It gave me a persistent dry cough and didn’t bring my blood pressure down at all.

Had I stayed with the medication, I’m sure the doctor would have found some combination of chemicals that forced my blood pressure to lower levels but that’s hardly a cure. And it would have turned me into a lifelong pill-popper.

Lower your blood pressure naturally. Get your body back in balance through diet and exercise. Get healthy again. If I can do it anyone can.


How to relax and lower your blood pressure: What you need to know

UPDATE (2017): My own route to lower blood pressure involved making some adjustments to my diet and I also started doing regular slow breathing exercises. (Physical exercise wasn’t so much an issue for me since I had an active lifestyle anyway.) Over a few months that brought my blood pressure levels down to what I felt to be a healthy level for me, though not always beneath the supposed ideal blood pressure 😉

High blood pressure can be due to a range of factors, slightly different for each of us, so there’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution to lowering your blood pressure naturally. However, there are a huge range of small things you can do which can add up to big changes in your health and blood pressure. Changing some of what you eat and drink makes a huge difference. As does being more physically active on a daily basis. Making time for relaxation and practising techniques to reduce stress is another enjoyable and important way to reduce blood pressure.

I’ve used and reviewed various products in my quest to lower my blood pressure (some are reviewed here: high blood pressure remedy reviews). But since the best ones are now unavailable, I decided to create my own guide to lowering blood pressure naturally.

Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally – The Complete 9 Step Guide

hypertension treatments - naturallyAs the title imaginatively suggests, it’s arranged in an easy-to-follow format of nine steps which you can work through at whatever pace suits you.

Each step covers some aspect of diet, exercise or stress reduction. And each presents a range of simple things you can do to start lowering your blood pressure without taking prescription medications.

I should also emphasize that going down this road of getting your blood pressure back in shape does not involve terrible amounts of self-denial! There are lots of tasty foods and drinks which contribute to reducing your blood pressure (including alcohol and chocolate). And there are also a good number of pleasurable activities and relaxing techniques.

You can even do blood pressure-lowering exercises which don’t even require getting up from the sofa.

Just click here for more details: Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally

Cheers, Simon

False Blood Pressure Readings – What to Watch Out For

false blood pressure readings

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Possibly the most misunderstood thing about blood pressure is the readings. It’s not always clear what the readings mean. And you can even get false blood pressure readings in certain situations – or rather, readings which don’t give the true picture of your usual blood pressure.

There’s a lot of mixed up information out there.

And the official medical establishment policy regarding hypertension isn’t helping.


What’s considered ‘high’ blood pressure?

Standard approach to diagnosing high blood pressure

Some years back the rule of thumb regarding blood pressure was ‘100 plus your age’ for an acceptable systolic (higher number) reading. Now the standard approach is 120/80 for everyone whether they are 9 or 99.

Indeed, both methods are flawed.

The traditional ‘100 plus your age’ failed to take in account that a good lifestyle can keep away the effects of aging and help us live longer and healthier lives.

The newly established technique of 120 over 80 for all falls short in the other way. Using an identical blood pressure ruler to measure a 20 year old and a 75 year old is absurd.

Sure we can remain healthier and live longer through conscious choices – but that’s not the same as believing we can maintain the peak of a 20 year old’s strength, fitness, and blood pressure for keeps.

Both methods fail to strike a balance, yet good health is all about maintaining a balance.

But blood pressure is dynamic!

Another downside with the 120 systolic / 80 diastolic approach is that it fails to take into account the dynamic nature of blood pressure. Your blood pressure is constantly changing.

It’s not a specific number we should worry over but the ranges that our blood pressure moves in.

Your blood pressure will naturally go up when you exert yourself, and so on. Blood pressure is usually the lowest at the end of a relaxed evening. And this is the best time to take your blood pressure – at home, relaxed. Not at the doctor’s office or after half a dozen cups of coffee.

If your blood pressure comes down to acceptable range (say under 135/ 90) then there’s no need to run to the local GP’s seeking high blood pressure medications. It’s when your blood pressure refuses to ever come below, say, 155 over 90, that you should contemplate blood pressure-reducing solutions.

Why 135/90? That’s my acceptable range. You see I have a genetic inclination for high blood pressure. Both my parents suffered from high blood pressure. So if I can keep my blood pressure under 135 over 90 I’m pleased.


False blood pressure readings? Make your own judgement

You’ll have to decide for yourself what’s acceptable for your own situation.

In case you’re interested, my actual blood pressure readings sometimes go below the 120/80 standard. That’s a result of lifestyle changes I’ve taken on. But I’m not going to ‘freak out’ if I get a reading of, say 133 over 89 or thereabouts.

When dealing with personal health issues, establishing your own goals runs against the grain for for many people. It’s easier to just listen to ‘the establishment’ and do what they say.

The standard approach for reading high blood pressure (on a visit to your GP) could result in false blood pressure readings. By this, I mean readings that show your blood pressure to be much higher than it is usually. (You can read more here on the ins and outs of blood pressure readings.) This can result in a false diagnosis of high blood pressure. As a consequence you could then be put on medications, when in fact your blood pressure in a more relaxed situation is OK.

If you contemplate all the bad side effects linked with hypertension medications, bringing down your blood pressure via healthy lifestyle changes may not seem that crazy after all.

Above all, don’t forget that blood pressure changes. Approach blood pressure readings in terms of ranges, not fixed numbers.


Take back control: get your own blood pressure monitor

blood pressure monitorBottom line: get your own blood pressure monitor so you can see for yourself how your blood pressure changes.This way you can avoid so-called false blood pressure readings.

If you take readings regularly, you can get a real sense of what the range of your blood pressure is. You can also start to find out what specific things raise your blood pressure unduly. Understanding your blood pressure is the first step to sorting it out, in my opinion.

For more information on this (and for links to buy blood pressure monitors), have a look at this post: Why do I need a blood pressure monitor


What if I do have genuinely high blood pressure? How do I get it down?

If you discover that you definitely do have high blood pressure, first thing – don’t panic. Having high blood pressure is not a death sentence. Nor does it mean a lifetime of blood pressure-lowering medications.

When I discovered I had high blood pressure, I initially took medication (and ACE inhibitor) but was put off by the nasty persistent cough it gave me. I then read up about more natural methods of lowering blood pressure. And I then implemented some of them. For me this consisted of making some changes in my eating habits and doing regular slow breathing exercises. (Slow breathing is actually the quickest way to reduce high blood pressure without medications.)


How to lower your blood pressure naturally: a practical guide

UPDATE 2017: The programs I used to help me with this are no longer available, so I created my own guide to lowering blood pressure naturally, and also my own slow breathing program.

Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally – The Complete 9 Step Guide is as it says: a step-by-step guide to lowering your blood pressure without having to resort to medications.

avoid false blood pressure readings and lower blood pressure naturally

The main lifestyle causes of high blood pressure (as opposed to age and genetics, which you can’t do much about) are unhealthy diet, not enough exercise, and too much stress.

As such, the guide covers everything you need to know about how to deal with these. It covers what you can eat and drink to bring down your blood pressure. It looks at how to be more active in your everyday life. And it also outlines techniques to help you relax more and start to de-stress.

Everything in the book is tried-and-tested and based on scientific research. But don’t worry – lowering your blood pressure naturally isn’t a life of denial. You can still eat butter, steak and chocolate, for example, and have a few drinks. And there are even blood pressure-lowering exercises which don’t even require getting up from the sofa.

Lowering your blood pressure naturally is a choice. But once you make that choice, and start implementing it, you’ll find it’s a choice that leads to greater health, energy and well-being. What’s good for your blood pressure is good for you in many other ways. Convenient! 😉

By the way, I mentioned slow breathing exercises above too. Well, the guide currently includes a full set of audio tracks for guided slow breathing. (Listen to samples here: guided slow breathing audio samples). So you can get started on that right away too. Hope that helps!


(Why) Do I Need a Blood Pressure Monitor?

blood pressure monitorIf you know you have high blood pressure, or even think you might have, then getting your own blood pressure monitor can be useful for several reasons.

If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure at the doctor’s office then you should be concerned, but don’t jump to the conclusion that you have life-threatening hypertension.

Having a high blood pressure reading on one occasion does not mean you suffer from high levels all the time. Indeed, our blood pressure is extremely dynamic, changing constantly throughout the day (and night). All kinds of things can affect your blood pressure, moment by moment.

There’s also the issue of what’s considered to be ‘high’ blood pressure. The medical standard for what’s acceptable has itself changed over time. (You can read a little of my thoughts on all this here: false blood pressure readings.) All to say, it’s good to find out for yourself what’s really going on.


White Coat Syndrome

Having extraordinarily high blood pressure readings at a doctor’s office is quite common. So common they even have a name for it – “White Coat Syndrome”. Simply being in the doctor’s office can raise our blood pressure above our normal range.

The funny thing is that White Coat Syndrome can affect you even if you don’t consciously feel tense at the doctor’s. I always felt calm at the doctor’s but blood pressure readings would routinely be some 20 points higher there than at home. (You can read more about my experiences here: Blood pressure readings – separating fact from fiction.)


Benefits of having your own blood pressure monitor

The only way to get a true picture of your blood pressure condition is to get your own monitor and take readings from time to time. There are a number of benefits of getting your own monitor.

First, you’ll get to know what your blood pressure is outside of the doctor’s office. That’s the blood pressure that counts. If it’s still way to high you need to start treating it.

Secondly, having your own blood pressure monitor allows you to tell what is working for you to bring your blood pressure down. It allows you to experiment, choose the best methods, and stick with it till your blood pressure is where you want it.

Perhaps most importantly, having your own blood pressure puts you back in the driver’s seat. This is where you want to be if your are serious about getting your blood pressure down and restore your health.

For a wide selection check out: for the UK, for the USA

By the way, Emma, who works in a pharmacy and seems to be ‘in the know’, says “don’t buy a wrist monitor – they’re not that accurate”. (The American Heart Assocation backs this up.)


How to use your blood pressure monitor

For tips on how to take the most accurate readings, see this article by the American Heart Foundation: Monitoring your blood pressure at home

Basically, sit straight and comfortably, don’t cross your legs, have your arm supported on a table or something so that your upper arm is at the level of your heart. Make sure the cuff is placed round your arm correctly (see your monitor’s instructions). Take a few readings a few minutes apart and take an average.

If you want to get a good idea of your general blood pressure, then do readings at the same times each day. However, if you’re wanting to see if your blood pressure is reacting to certain activities or foods or drinks, then you can take a reading shortly after doing/having those things.

Getting your own blood pressure is a vital first step getting a handle on your blood pressure! Take back control!


Lowering your blood pressure naturally

Now you’re armed (haha…) with your own blood pressure monitor, it’s time to start lowering your blood pressure. Think how much more enjoyable it will be to take those readings and watch the numbers go down.

It will take time though. The only quick way to lower your blood pressure is to force it down with blood pressure-lowering medications. These don’t actually treat whatever’s causing your high blood pressure though. So a more holistic and effective solution can be to reduce your blood pressure through ‘natural’ means. This doesn’t mean obscure herbal treatments (though there are some good ones), but just ordinary changes. Like adjusting some of the things you eat and drink. Being more active day-to-day. Making time to properly relax.

One of the best ways to relax is to breathe more slowly. Other than medications, breathing slowly is the quickest way to lower your blood pressure. You can test this with your blood pressure monitor. Do a reading beforehand. Then breathe slowly for a good fifteen minutes or so. Then take another reading.

I’ve created a set of guided slow breathing audio tracks (mp3s) which you can use to help you. (It can be hard to keep your breathing steady and slow without a bit of initial guidance.) You can listen to some samples here: Breathe-Slow samples

blood pressure monitors and lowering blood pressureI’ve also put together a guide to lowering your blood pressure naturally, step-by-step. It includes other relaxation techniques as well as lots on all the things you can eat and drink to lower your blood pressure. And tips on being more active in your daily life. Exercise is vital to healthy blood pressure, but it doesn’t have to involve going to the gym!

Click here for more details: Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally – The Complete 9 Step Guide

By the way, the guide currently comes with the slow breathing audio tracks included. Everything you need to watch those numbers slowly but surely come down!


Blood pressure readings – separating fact from fiction

After five months of stopping medications and starting on alternative natural remedies to reduce blood pressure I started to get blood pressure reading below the 120/80 ideal!

blood pressure readingsFor example, yesterday I came in from working on the roof of my house and decided just for interest to take a reading. I clocked in at 153/98 with a heart rate of 84. Had I lost all the ground I had been struggling to attain? Not at all. That night before bed I took a reading again and was back down to a respectable 128/87 with a heart rate of 68.

You see, blood pressure levels change – up, down, round-about, and back again – in the course a day depending on what your doing, thinking, or have eaten. This is why it can be a big mistake to conclude you a chronic sufferer of high blood pressure / hypertension from one reading or an occasional visit to the doctor’s office.

Add to this the fact that many people’s blood pressure level increases just stepping into a doctor’s office. It’s called white coat syndrome. I think I have it even though inwardly I feel reasonably calm at the doctor’s. But how else can I account that my highest blood pressure readings ever have been at the doctor’s?

How many people have been falsely diagnosed with one or two high blood pressure readings and put on medications for life when there was no need?


What to do if you think you have high blood pressure

What this means is that if you’re worried about your blood pressure levels:

  1. Get your own monitor and take readings at different times.
  2. Judge your blood pressure level according to ranges.

Remember, blood pressure readings are not as accurate tire pressure gauges. If you take two readings one after the other they will very rarely be the same (though they should be close). Don’t get too obsessed by exact numbers when it comes to blood pressure. Look for ranges.

Which is why the current blood pressure industry mantra of 120/80, 120/80, 120/80 … is just plain silly.

It has been speculated that it is largely driven by international pharmaceutical industries who have a large stake in the hypertension medications field. This is not just another conspiracy theory. Rather it is the outcome of a “confluence of interests”.

Look for a healthy range of blood pressure readings. Where you draw the line between ‘OK’ and ‘not OK’ readings is really up to you.

My own approach

A reasonable approach that works for me is this: When relaxed, blood pressure readings below 130/90 is good; readings below 140/105 is OK; readings over 140/105 is not OK – time for action.

Mind you I have discovered that high blood pressure ‘runs in the family’ for me which means I have to take extra diligence to keep me in a healthy range. Others, not genetically prone to higher blood pressure, may wish to lower their ‘OK’ ranges.

Blood pressure ranges are a bit like shoe sizes. It not natural that everyone has identical blood pressure readings – or should be medicated in an attempt achieve an ideal reading at all times.

Given the fact that undesirable side effects with many of these medications have been well documented, there’s every reason to look for alternatives if you suffer from high blood pressure.

That’s exactly the situation I found myself in back in April this year (2009). After two months of being prescribed an ACE inhibitor (Rampril) I had developed a persistant nagging cough that would wake me up often in the night. Meanwhile my blood pressure reading refused to budge from 190+ / 120+ readings.

After five months of following of exploring alternatives to medication I now enjoy blood pressure reading in an OK range – sometimes even below the ideal of 120/80.


Alternative blood pressure remedies

I’ve tried a number of alternative blood pressure cures offered on the internet but the ones I’ve used the most and come back to is Kevin Riley’s guidebook Get Natural! Drop Your Blood Pressure, and David O’Hara’s BreathEasy program of slow breathing exercises.

I have a 15 minute slow breathing session almost every night before bed and my blood pressure regularly drops to the 120/80 range and my heart rate below 70. (Slow breathing is actually the quickest way to lower your blood pressure without medications!)

Even though I have completed Kevin Riley’s program to lower blood pressure I often re-read parts. It’s a wealth of information and an enjoyable read (which is more than you can say for most ‘health guides’ on the Internet).

If you’re really serious about lowering your blood pressure without medication then you might want to consider what has worked for me so far:

  • Get your own blood pressure monitor
  • Take 15 minutes off a day to breathe slowly and reduce hypertension
  • learn about how to adjust your diet and daily routine to be healthier


UPDATE: How to lower your blood pressure naturally

Both BreathEasy and Get Natural! are now unavailable. However, to replace (and improve on) them, I’ve created my own slow breathing audio program as well as a guide on how to lower your blood pressure naturally.

Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally – The Complete 9 Step Guide (with Slow Breathing Program included)

The guide contains simple and proven strategies for lowering your blood pressure and keeping it low through easy, effective and enjoyable changes in lifestyle.

It covers the large choice of affordable natural ingredients that lower blood pressure, many of which are available in local stores. It also looks at the best ways to exercise for lower blood pressure, with tips for being more active in your everyday life. Finally, it outlines handy techniques for stress reduction and relaxation.

lower your blood pressure naturallyTo keep it simple, the guide is arranged in a series of 9 easy-to-follow steps.

These progressive steps are based on the principle that positive incremental change is always best in health matters. And each chapter will take you further along the road of greater vigour and peace of mind (and a healthy blood pressure).

You also get a full set of guided slow breathing audio tracks (mp3s) to complement the guide.

Click here for more information and to get a free sample and start lowering your blood pressure naturally today – Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally – The Complete 9 Step Guide

– – –

After 9 weeks of following Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally and doing slow breathing exercises you should be feeling a lot better and your blood pressure readings should be down quite a lot.

That’s what’s worked for me.

Best wishes and let us know how you’re getting along with these or any other natural cures for high blood pressure.

Life, we’re all in it together.