Myths & Truths about BP

It's no secret that when it comes to living a long, vibrant life, keeping your heart healthy is essential.

Two key indicators of heart health are your blood pressure level and heart rate.

Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of your blood vessels, while your heart rate, or pulse, is the number of times your heart beats in a minute.

These two measurements are among the easiest to take, yet few truly understand how the two are related and how they're not.

Let's explore a few of the more common myths of blood pressure and heart rate. Some are dead false, but others... well, there's some truth there.

See if you can guess which are true.

Myth #1: Blood pressure and heart rate are always directly related.

Since your blood pressure and heart rate are typically taken at the same time at the doctor's office, it's often believed that these two key measurements are related.

But while it's true that blood pressure and heart rate can rise together, like when you're in a threatening situation, they don't always move in the same direction.

Something that may make your pulse speed up won't necessarily create a higher blood pressure reading.

Myth #2: There are "normal" targets for blood pressure and heart rate.

There's a widely held belief that the optimal blood pressure reading should be under 120/80, while resting heart rate should be between 60 and 100 beats per minute (BPM).

But those are just guidelines.

"Normal" targets differ by person.

Myth #3: Low blood pressure and pulse is bad news.

If your heart rate is below 60, should you be alarmed?

Not necessarily.

For some people, and endurance athletes especially, having a resting heart rate in the 50s or even 40s could be a sign of good health.

Low blood pressure, on the other hand, may indicate a problem.

If your blood pressure is low, and you're experiencing other symptoms like dizziness, fatigue, or nausea, you'll want to get looked at by a doctor.

Myth #4: Elevated blood pressure levels are worse than a high pulse.

This "myth" is actually true.

There is enough clinical evidence that shows elevated blood pressure puts you at greater risk for other heart concerns.

And while a rapid heart rate can be a cause for concern, it is most commonly caused by just being out of shape. 

Myth #5: The time you take your pulse and blood pressure matters.

Not a myth... here's another true one.

The time you take your blood pressure and pulse does matter.

Ideally, it would be in the morning, before taking any medications, and not right after you've exercised.

And you want to be in a relaxed position with your legs uncrossed.

Crossing your legs while taking a reading may cause an 8 to 10 point increase in your systolic blood pressure (top number). 

Myth #6: Fast heart rate = shorter lifespan.

I'm sorry to say that this one is true.

One study found that adults who had a high-normal resting heart rate of 80 BPM to 90 BPM had a 40 percent shorter lifespan than those with a heart rate of 60 BPM to 69 BPM.

However, the researchers also discovered that 15-30 minutes of daily moderate exercise could eliminate the increased mortality and reverse the life-span loss.

These findings are a good reminder that if your heart rate, or blood pressure aren't where they should be, there are natural, drug-free ways to get them in check.

Physical activity is just one way you can improve both your blood pressure and heart rate.

A heart-healthy diet, stress management techniques, and targeted nutrients can also do wonders to improve these key indicators, and overall health.

And if you'd like to see my top recommendation for supporting healthy blood pressure and improving your circulation, go here.

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Mitchell Clarkson - July 19, 2021

Thank you for providing this short but informative questionnaire. It help confirm several things I had heard in my younger days.

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