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* WELL-BEING


BLOOD PRESSURE, DEFINED Blood pressure is the amount of force exerted on the walls of your blood vessels. The number at the top of your blood pressure reading (systolic) refl ects the amount of force exerted on the walls of your blood vessels as your heart beats. The bottom number of the reading (diastolic) is the amount of force exerted between heartbeats, when the ves- sels relax. Generally, as you get older, the amount of elastic- ity of your blood vessels tends to decrease, and your blood pressure tends to increase. Although there is not much you can do to prevent this from happening, there are ways to reduce your risk fac- tors to maintain the elasticity of your blood vessels. For example, smoking cigarettes has been found to reduce the elasticity of blood vessels. Also, having persistently high blood sugar levels (which happens when diabetes is poorly controlled) reduces the elasticity of blood vessels. Both these conditions can lead to increases in blood pressure, which raise the risk of having a heart attack or a stroke. It’s important to avoid smoking and to keep your blood sugar in check in order to control your blood pressure.


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