Hypertension: blood pressure readings, risks and tips to reduce the “silent killer” – Nutrition Network

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a medical condition characterised by persistently elevated blood pressure in the arteries. This article by the Nutrition Network, an online accredited education, connection, and learning platform founded by The Noakes Foundation, details the blood pressure readings for four general categories, highlighting the importance of understanding hypertension and encouraging readers to get their blood pressure checked as this “silent killer” does not usually cause noticeable symptoms. – Nadya Swart

The Importance of Understanding Hypertension

On 17 May every year, we honour World Hypertension Day at Nutrition Network.

This day is highlighted to bring awareness to the destructive effects of hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, on human health.Β 

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Hypertension affects the body’s arteries. If your blood pressure is high, your heart has to work harder to pump blood. Blood pressure is usually measured in millimetres of mercury (mm Hg). When you are diagnosed with hypertension, your blood pressure reading will be at a rate of 130/80 mm Hg or higher (1).


The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association divides blood pressure into four general categories (2).

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Blood pressure readings:

  • Normal blood pressure. Blood pressure is 120/80 mm Hg or lower.
  • Elevated blood pressure. The top number ranges from 120 to 129 mm Hg, or the bottom number is below, not above, 80 mm Hg.
  • Stage 1 hypertension. The top number ranges from 130 to 139 mm Hg, or the bottom number is between 80 and 89 mm Hg.
  • Stage 2 hypertension. The top number is 140 mm Hg or higher, or the bottom number is 90 mm Hg or higher.

According to the World Health Organisation, an estimated 1.28 billion adults aged 30 to 79 worldwide have high blood pressure, most of whom live in low- and middle-income countries (3). 

We encourage you to contact your healthcare provider to assess your blood pressure using a blood pressure test to determine if you have a higher-than-normal blood pressure reading, as more often than not, you won’t experience any major symptoms and would need to have it checked. Your healthcare provider or doctor will examine you and ask questions about your medical history and any symptoms that you may be experiencing.

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Here is a 101 list of carbohydrate-restricted eating tips that have been shown to reduce insulin, blood pressure, and overall body weight:

  • Avoid added sugar
  • Avoid grains and starches
  • Choose real, whole, and unprocessed foods – the less packaging and processing, the better
  • Eat a variety of animal-based real foods and brightly coloured vegetables

Access our Hypertension Reference Handout by clicking here and downloading it!Β 

Did you know we created a brand new Doctors Desk Mini-Training by Professor Tim Noakes on Heart Health? Your key learning objectives:

  • Why the longstanding diet-heart hypothesis is incorrect
  • Why high cholesterol does not cause heart disease
  • Why there is no evidence to support the use of statins

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Reference List 

  1. Mayo Clinic – High blood pressure hypertension (May 2023) 
  2. The American College of Cardiology blood pressure readings (August 2022)

World Health Organisation – Hypertension (March 2023)