Get Regular Blood Pressure Checks
If your blood pressure is in the healthy range and you have no other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, and no personal or family history of high blood pressure, it is still important to have a check at least every two years. Your doctor can also check your blood pressure during routine visits.
If your blood pressure is highnormal , or if you have other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as a personal or family history of high blood pressure, stroke or heart attack, it is best to have it checked more frequently such as every 6 to 12 months or as directed by your doctor. Ask your doctor for advice.
New Acc/aha High Blood Pressure Guidelines Lower Definition Of Hypertension
High blood pressure should be treated earlier with lifestyle changes and in some patients with medication at 130/80 mm Hg rather than 140/90 based on new ACC and American Heart Association guidelines for the detection, prevention, management and treatment of high blood pressure.
The new guidelines the first comprehensive set since 2003 lower the definition of high blood pressure to account for complications that can occur at lower numbers and to allow for earlier intervention. The new definition will result in nearly half of the U.S. adult population having high blood pressure, with the greatest impact expected among younger people. Additionally, the prevalence of high blood pressure is expected to triple among men under age 45, and double among women under 45, the guideline authors note. However, only a small increase is expected in the number of adults requiring antihypertensive medication.
“You’ve already doubled your risk of cardiovascular complications compared to those with a normal level of blood pressure,” said Paul K. Whelton, MB, MD, MSc, FACC, lead author of the guidelines. “We want to be straight with people if you already have a doubling of risk, you need to know about it. It doesn’t mean you need medication, but it’s a yellow light that you need to be lowering your blood pressure, mainly with non-drug approaches.”
Blood pressure categories in the new guideline are:
For People Over 60 Intensive Blood Pressure Lowering May Prevent More Heart Problems Than Standard Therapy
Current guidelines from the nations leading heart organizations say adults should aim for a blood pressure reading under 130/80 millimeters of mercury . However, some doctors believe that target might be too aggressive for older people, who may be more prone to side effects from blood pressure drugs, such as dizziness and falls.
Now, a new study confirms the effectiveness of intensive blood pressure reduction in people over 60. “Not only is a lower target safe, its also associated with better outcomes in older people,” says Dr. Umberto Campia, a cardiologist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Womens Hospital.
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How To Read Blood Pressure
To get a meaningful overview of your values it is important to regularly read and document your blood pressure. A single measurement at the doctor is not sufficient to assess your blood pressure, as this is just a momentary snapshot of your condition. Whats more, readings at the doctors office can occasionally be higher due to nervosity, an effect called white coat hypertension.
Before measuring your blood pressure, take a break of at least three to five minutes. Sit on a chair and avoid any effort, as the blood pressure can otherwise increase. Apply your blood pressure monitor on one of your arms . Rest your forearm loosly on a table top and start measuring. To avoid measuring errors, it can also make sense to read your blood pressure three times in a row and use the average value for your documentation.
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The blood pressure can be influenced by many minor influences such as physical exercise, meals or nervosity. Therefore, read your blood pressure regularly at the same time of the day, e.g. 30 minutes after waking up and before breakfast.
Learn more about your heart health:
How To Measure Your Blood Pressure
Usually, before a doctors appointment, a nurse checks your blood pressure to make sure its not too low or too high. But you can also check your blood pressure readings at home.
You can use an inflatable cuff, similar to those used at your doctors office. Or you can use a digital blood pressure monitor with automatic cuff inflation.
Read the directions carefully when measuring your blood pressure at home, and follow the instructions that come with the product.
Also, keep in mind that certain factors may cause a temporary rise in your blood pressure. These factors include:
For a more accurate blood pressure reading:
- Take your blood pressure in a quiet location when youre calm and relaxed.
- Dont exercise, smoke, or drink caffeine for at least 30 minutes before measuring your blood pressure.
- Its best to vary the times of day that you take your pressure readings to see the range of your readings.
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Average Blood Pressure By Age
As you get older, your blood vessels tend to become stiffer and plaque can build up in them, which can raise your blood pressure. If your blood pressure becomes too high, you’re at a greater risk for heart disease, strokes, and more.
In 2015, the average blood pressure worldwide was 127/79 mm Hg in men, and 122/77 mm Hg in women, according to a study analysis published in Lancet.
When researchers for the National Center for Health Statistics looked at average blood pressure in U.S. adults between 2001 and 2008, the average reading was 122/71 mm Hg. The breakout was 124/72 mm Hg for men, and 121/70 mm Hg in women. It rose by age and was significantly higher in Black people.
The researchers found the following breakdown by age, sex, and race or ethnicity:
|Blood Pressure by Age|
As the population ages and life expectancy increases, high blood pressure is becoming more common.
Whats Considered High Blood Pressure In Pregnant People
High blood pressure can also occur duringpregnancy. According to the , about 8 percent of people develop some form of hypertension while pregnant.
- Normal blood pressure during pregnancy is less than 120 mm Hg systolic and less than 80 mm Hg diastolic.
- Readings higher than 140 mm Hg systolic or 90 mm Hg diastolic are considered high.
There are two main categories of high blood pressure in pregnancy:
- Chronic hypertension. This is when blood pressure is high before you become pregnant or when high blood pressure develops before 20 weeks of pregnancy.
- Hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. These types of high blood pressure problems are specific to pregnant people and typically develop after 20 weeks of pregnancy. These blood pressure issues typically disappear after you give birth.
Your doctor may prescribe medications if you have high blood pressure during pregnancy.
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What Is A Healthy Blood Pressure
When the heart is squeezing blood into the arteries, the pressure is high. When the heart is relaxed, the pressure is lower.
Your blood pressure is a measurement taken of the highest reading and the lowest reading . It is given as 2 figures highest over lowest or systolic over diastolic. Blood pressure is measured in mmHg, which refers to millimetres of mercury.
Your blood pressure varies from day to day, even moment to moment. Most doctors would say that a healthy blood pressure is higher than 90/60 mmHg but lower than about 140/90.
The Blood Pressure Chart
Once you know your numbers, you can use the blood pressure chart to see what they mean and if your blood pressure is in the healthy range. The chart is suitable for adults of any age, as the cut-off point for diagnosing high blood pressure doesnt change with age.
How to use the blood pressure chart
Simply find your top number on the left side of the chart and your bottom number on the bottom. Where the two lines meet is your blood pressure.
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Do The Guidelines Recommend That I Do Anything Differently
Other than monitoring your blood pressure at home, they do not. The guidelines maintain the commonly held beliefs that the way to treat high blood pressure is through medication, diet, exercise, and weight loss.
Of course, since the actual definition of high blood pressure has changed, it may mean that you are now eligible for medication. Medication is usually prescribed for people who have Stage 1 hypertension and have already had a stroke. However, people who just have Stage 1 hypertension or high blood pressure can usually treat both of those things purely through lifestyle changes.
What Does A Blood Pressure Reading Look Like
When you have your , you will be given two numbers, a top number and a bottom number.
- Systolic blood pressure. This is the first, or top, number. This is the highest level your blood pressure reaches when your heart beats, forcing blood around your body.
- Diastolic blood pressure. The second number, or bottom number, is the lowest level your blood pressure reaches as your heart relaxes between beats.
Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury . If the first number is 120 and the second number is 80, this would be written as 120/80mmHg, and youd call it 120 over 80.
This video explains more about systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
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What Is Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of arteries as the heart pumps blood. When a health care professional measures your blood pressure, they use a blood pressure cuff around your arm that gradually tightens. The results are given in two numbers. The first number, called systolic blood pressure, is the pressure caused by your heart contracting and pushing out blood. The second number, called diastolic blood pressure, is the pressure when your heart relaxes and fills with blood.
A blood pressure reading is given as the systolic blood pressure number over the diastolic blood pressure number. Blood pressure levels are classified based on those two numbers.
- Low blood pressure, or hypotension, is systolic blood pressure lower than 90 or diastolic blood pressure lower than 60. If you have low blood pressure, you may feel lightheaded, weak, dizzy, or even faint. It can be caused by not getting enough fluids, blood loss, some medical conditions, or medications, including those prescribed for high blood pressure.
- Normal blood pressure for most adults is defined as a systolic pressure of less than 120 and a diastolic pressure of less than 80.
- Elevated blood pressure is defined as a systolic pressure between 120 and 129 with a diastolic pressure of less than 80.
- High blood pressure is defined as 130 or higher for the first number, or 80 or higher for the second number.
Checking Blood Pressure At Home
Keeping track of blood pressure at home is important for many people, especially if you have high blood pressure. This helps you and your doctor find out if your treatment is working.
Your doctor may also suggest that you check your pressure at home if they think you may have “white coat hypertension.” It’s a real condition. The stress of being in a doctor’s office raises your blood pressure, but when you’re home, it’s normal.
Ask your doctor to recommend an easy-to-use home blood pressure monitor. Make sure the cuff fits properly. If your arm is too big for the cuff, the reading may be higher than your blood pressure really is. Ask your doctor for a larger cuff or make sure you buy a home monitor with a cuff that fits you.
You also can use a wrist blood pressure monitor, but they often aren’t as accurate. Follow the directions that come with the device to make sure you are using it correctly.
No matter which type of blood pressure monitor you have, it’s a good idea to take it to your doctor’s office. You can compare its reading to the numbers your doctor gets. Avoid caffeine, cigarettes, and exercise for at least 30 minutes before the test.
When you take your blood pressure at home, sit up straight in a chair and put both feet on the floor. Ask your doctor or nurse to show you the right way to position your arm so you get accurate readings.
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High Blood Pressure And Older Adults
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High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a major health problem that is common in older adults. Your bodys network of blood vessels, known as the vascular system, changes with age. Arteries get stiffer, causing blood pressure to go up. This can be true even for people who have heart-healthy habits and feel just fine. High blood pressure, sometimes called “the silent killer,” often does not cause signs of illness that you can see or feel. Though it affects nearly half of all adults, many may not even be aware they have it.
If high blood pressure isn’t controlled with lifestyle changes and medication, it can lead to serious health problems, including cardiovascular disease such as heart disease and stroke, vascular dementia, eye problems, and kidney disease. The good news is that blood pressure can be controlled in most people.
High Blood Pressure In Adults
Blood pressure is a measurement of the force exerted against the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps blood to your body. Hypertension is the term used to describe high blood pressure.
Untreated high blood pressure can lead to many medical problems. These include heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, eye problems, and other health issues.
Blood pressure readings are given as two numbers. The top number is called systolic blood pressure. The bottom number is called diastolic blood pressure. For example, 120 over 80 .
One or both of these numbers can be too high.
- Normal blood pressure is when your blood pressure is lower than 120/80 mm Hg most of the time.
- High blood pressure is when one or both of your blood pressure readings are higher than 130/80 mm Hg most of the time.
- If the top blood pressure number is between 120 and 130 mm Hg, and the bottom blood pressure number is less than 80 mm Hg, it is called elevated blood pressure.
If you have heart or kidney problems, or you had a stroke, your doctor may want your blood pressure to be even lower than that of people who do not have these conditions.
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What Is High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is blood pressure that is higher than normal. Your blood pressure changes throughout the day based on your activities. Having blood pressure measures consistently above normal may result in a diagnosis of high blood pressure .
Your health care team can diagnose high blood pressure and make treatment decisions by reviewing your systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels and comparing them to levels found in certain guidelines.
The guidelines used to diagnose high blood pressure may differ from health care professional to health care professional:
- Some health care professionals diagnose patients with high blood pressure if their blood pressure is consistently 140/90 mm Hg or higher.2 This limit is based on a guideline released in 2003, as seen in the table below.
- Other health care professionals diagnose patients with high blood pressure if their blood pressure is consistently 130/80 mm Hg or higher.1 This limit is based on a guideline released in 2017, as seen in the table below.
|systolic: 130 mm Hg or higherdiastolic: 80 mm Hg or higher|
If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, talk with your health care team about your blood pressure levels and how these levels affect your treatment plan.
How Often Should You Get Your Blood Pressure Checked
If your blood pressure is higher than it should be, follow your doctors advice with regard to how often you should check your blood pressure at home. Also find out from your doctor what you should do if your blood pressure readings are higher than usual.
If you dont have high blood pressure, its still important to get it checked regularly, as blood pressure can change over time. Medical experts suggest the following timeline for low risk individuals:
- For people between 18 and 40. Get your blood pressure checked at least once every 2 years.
- For anyone over 40. Get your blood pressure checked at least once a year.
You may need to have your blood pressure checked more regularly if you:
- have a family history of hypertension
- have heart disease, diabetes, or kidney disease
- are overweight or have obesity
- have sleep apnea or insomnia
You dont necessarily have to get your blood pressure checked at your doctors office. Some health care clinics do free blood pressure screenings. You may also schedule an appointment at your local pharmacy.
Untreated and uncontrolled high blood pressure can damage your blood vessels and other organs, including your heart, kidneys, eyes, and brain.
Complications of hypertension can include:
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