To help think understand the importance of blood pressure, try this. First, make your fist into a wide circle and blow through it. The air passes easily. Next, clench your fist to make the space small. It takes a lot more effort to move the air through the small space. This is like the contrast between normal and high blood pressure. When your blood pressure is high, it indicates that the veins and arteries are clogged with plaque and the heart has to work harder to send blood to the places that need it. High blood pressure significantly increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney disease and premature death.
About 1 in 3 Americans have high blood pressure. In the 55-64 year old age group, about 54% have high blood pressure (1).
Normal blood pressure is below 120 systolic and 80 diastolic (120/80). It used to be expected that blood pressure would increase with age, so that some said your systolic blood pressure should be 100 plus your age (for me, that would be 157!). But it has become clear that the old standard is wrong. Not only can you maintain your blood pressure, you can lower it with healthy eating habits and exercise.
For example, Dr. Esselstyn has demonstrated that a vegan diet can significantly improve the condition of coronary arteries. Figure A shows the artery before the dietary improvements, and Figure B is 32 months later.
Personally, my blood pressure had been in the high normal range for most of my life. However, since adopting The Simply Fit Diet, it has dropped to the low normal range and often lower. Small dietary changes can have a big effect. Recently, I quit caffeine and dropped my blood pressure about 10%--as much improvement as most people get taking medication! High blood pressure is not a necessary byproduct of aging. With a healthy diet and exercise, you should be able to maintain healthy blood pressure throughout your life.