Salt Intake And High Blood Pressure
Reducing the amount of salt you eat can also help to manage or even avoid high blood pressure. To help reduce your salt intake:
- Ensure your diet consists of wholefoods including vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, lean meat and poultry, fish and seafood, legumes, unsalted nuts and seeds.
- Avoid packaged and processed foods that are high in salt. You cant see the salt in these foods, so you dont know how much salt you are having. Get into the habit of checking food labels.
- Choose low-salt food where possible. If you cant find low-salt products, those with moderate amounts of salt are ok too. Another simple alternative is to look for labels with low salt, salt reduced or no added salt.
- Avoid adding salt to cooking or at the table flavour meals with herbs and spices instead.
Understanding Blood Pressure Levels
Blood pressure is one of the most important health parameters. High blood pressure, or hypertension, can lead to serious health complications if left untreated. Low blood pressure, or hypotension, can also be dangerous if not treated properly. Therefore, it is vital to understand your blood pressure levels and maintain healthy levels. This post will discuss blood pressure levels and keep them in the optimal range.
What Is A Blood Pressure Reading And What Do The Two Numbers Mean
Blood pressure numbers differ from person to person. It can sometimes be confusing as the two numbers may seem difficult to understand. Blood pressure is expressed as 131/92, the explanation of the two numbers is as follows:
- The first number is Systolic Blood Pressure. This refers to the pressure created when the heart beats, pumping blood through the arteries to get to the rest of your body . The blood being pumped creates a force on your blood vessels, this force is shown in the first number, the systolic number.
- The second number is referred to as Diastolic Blood Pressure, as opposed to the systolic reading which is known as the pressure as the heart pumps blood via the arteries, this refers to the pressure in the arteries when your heart is resting between the beats . This is the period where the heart muscle itself can get oxygen when it fills with blood.
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How Is An Unusual Map Treated
An unusual MAP is usually a sign of an underlying condition or problem in the body, so the treatment depends on the cause. causes may include heart conditions, Sepsis, stroke, internal bleeding, and more.
For a low MAP, treatment may focus on safely raising blood pressure quickly to avoid organ damage. This is usually done with:
- intravenous fluids or blood transfusions to increase blood flow
- medications called vasopressors that tighten blood vessels, which can increase blood pressure and make the heart beat faster or pump harder
Depending on the cause, treating a high MAP may also require quick action, in this case, to reduce overall blood pressure. This can be done with oral or intravenous nitroglycerin . This medication helps to relax and widen blood vessels, making it easier for blood to reach the heart.
Once the blood pressure is under control, the doctor can continue treating the underlying cause. This may involve:
- breaking up a stroke-causing blood clot
- inserting a stent into a coronary artery to keep it open
Digital Blood Pressure Monitors
Digital blood pressure monitors are often used on the wrist, but they can also be placed on the finger or upper arm and are activated simply by pressing a button. They read the blood pressure automatically based on variations in the volume of blood in the arteries. When taking blood pressure measurements on the wrist, it’s important to keep the hand level with the heart. Otherwise it can affect the readings.
Digital meters can sometimes be inaccurate and produce unreliable readings anyway especially in people with certain heart rhythm problems or arteries that have hardened due to arteriosclerosis.
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What Does My Blood Pressure Reading Mean
The information below and in the related links is designed to help you understand what your latest blood pressure readings may mean for your health. However, this isnt a substitute for medical advice, particularly since a number of personal factors may influence your blood pressure. Please discuss your blood pressure concerns with your doctor or medical practitioner.
Categories Of Blood Pressure
When an individual is diagnosed with high blood pressure, they are categorized into a stage of hypertension. Stages are not determined based on one single blood pressure reading but by an average of blood pressure readings over time. Stage 1 hypertension is diagnosed when an individual’s diastolic blood pressure reading is between 80 and 89 mmHg, and their systolic blood pressure reading is between 130 and 139 mmHg. When an individual’s systolic blood pressure reading exceeds 140 mmHg and their diastolic blood pressure reading exceeds 90 mmHg, they have Stage 2 hypertension. Medications are usually recommended for individuals diagnosed with Stage 2 hypertension. When an individual’s systolic blood pressure reading exceeds 180 mmHg and their diastolic blood pressure reading exceeds 120 mmHg, they are in the danger zone, also called a hypertensive crisis. Even with no symptoms, an individual who is in a hypertensive crisis requires urgent medical treatment. Symptoms of a hypertensive crisis include chest pain, visual changes, hematuria, dizziness, headache, loss of muscle control in the face, and paralysis.
Read about the risks linked to unhealthy blood pressure readings next.
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Normal Blood Pressure Range
A normal blood pressure reading indicates that the heart and blood vessels are not working too hard pushing blood and that the blood is not exerting too much pressure on the walls of the vessels, says Aseem Desai, M.D., a cardiologist at Providence Mission Hospital in Southern California. Recent data from the American Heart Association suggests the optimal normal reading for adults over 20 is lower than 120/80 mmHgVirani S, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics 2021 update . American Heart Association Journal. 2021 143:e254-e743. .
Dr. Desai notes blood pressure can vary depending on a persons age, gender, race and ethnicity, but it should still fall within the general normal range. While numbers lower than 120/80 are generally considered normal, Dr. Desai adds, The target blood pressure for treatment varies depending on age and associated co-morbidities .
Previously, guidance for normal blood pressure for adults varied by gender and specific age, but new data states normal blood pressure for adults as a collective is less than 120/80 mmHgHigh Blood Pressure Symptoms and Causes. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed 7/16/2021. .
When it comes to race and ethnicity, Dr. Desai says certain groups have a higher rate of hypertension. Non-Hispanic Black people have a significantly higher rate of hypertension compared to non-Hispanic white people, and Hispanics and non-Hispanic Asians have lower rates than the first two, he says.
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.
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How Accurate Is My Blood Pressure Reading
Some people have what’s called “white coat” syndrome. Their blood pressure goes up due to about being in the doctor’s office. Other people relax more in a medical setting and have pressure readings that are lower than in their daily lives.
If a doctor suspects the office readings aren’t representative of your true pressure, he or she may suggest measuring your blood pressure with a home monitor or at a pharmacy or other public site to compare with your office readings. You may also be tested with a monitoring device that you wear for 24 hours. This device will automatically take your blood pressure at various times to get a more accurate average reading.
Blood pressure varies for most people throughout the day. Pressure in the morning is generally higher, but it can range quite a bit depending on activities, such as exercise or eating stress or excitement or whether you’ve had caffeine or other stimulants. Taking a sampling of pressures during your day can give a better picture than a one-shot reading in the doctors office.
The American Heart Association recommends people older than 20 with normal blood pressureless than 120/80get their blood pressure checked by their doctor at least every two years. If your pressure is higher, your doctor will likely advise you to have it checked more frequently so it can be kept under control.
Maintaining Healthy Blood Pressure
There are several ways an individual can keep their average blood pressure levels healthy, depending on their circumstances. Maintaining healthy blood pressure may be easier for one individual than it is for another because everyone’s body has slight variations in genetics and other factors that influence the stability of their blood pressure. One of the best ways an individual can maintain healthy blood pressure is by exercising regularly. When an individual exercises, their body releases a substance called nitric acid, which is a vasodilator and helps open up the blood vessels, effectively reducing an individual’s blood pressure. Exercise also helps an individual with obtaining and maintaining a healthy body weight, which also decreases blood pressure. An individual can maintain healthy blood pressure levels by monitoring and limiting their intake of salty foods, sugary foods, fats, red meats, and processed foods. An individual who drinks alcohol heavily or uses tobacco products can help obtain and maintain healthy blood pressure by stopping the use of tobacco and limiting their consumption of alcohol. It is also helpful for an individual to find healthy ways to cope with and reduce stress.
Reveal the causes associated with hypotension next.
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How Blood Pressure Is Measured
A doctor or nurse will measure your blood pressure with a small gauge attached to an inflatable cuff. It’s simple and painless.
The person taking your blood pressure wraps the cuff around your upper arm. Some cuffs go around the forearm or wrist, but often they aren’t as accurate.
Your doctor or nurse will use a stethoscope to listen to the blood moving through your artery.
Theyâll inflate the cuff to a pressure higher than your systolic blood pressure, and it will tighten around your arm. Then theyâll release it. As the cuff deflates, the first sound they hear through the stethoscope is the systolic blood pressure. It sounds like a whooshing noise. The point where this noise goes away marks the diastolic blood pressure.
In a blood pressure reading, the systolic number always comes first, and then the diastolic number. For example, your numbers may be “120 over 80” or written as 120/80.
Can I Take Multiple Blood Pressure Readings In A Row
Many times the first blood pressure reading is higher than the subsequent readings 1. There are many reasons why this may happen which you can read about in my blog post, First Blood Pressure Reading Always High. Its one of the reasons why measuring two to three times is ideal. Only taking it once increases the chances for an inaccurate diagnosis of your pressure.
The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association recommends 2-3 measurements for a medical staff and for you at home 2. Some of the home monitors can be programmed to do this automatically. One of the three monitors I recommend, the Omron 10 series, is one of those monitors. Check it out and the other two in my blog post, Home Blood Pressure Monitors.
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Why Take 3 Blood Pressure Readings
There are many days when people dont have enough time to measure their blood pressure once. You may have heard taking one blood pressure reading is not enough and it should be three times. With such limited time, why take 3 BP readings?
A 3rd blood pressure reading provides a more accurate result and eliminates error. The new blood pressure guidelines recommend taking an average of two or more blood pressure readings obtained on two or more occasions. The 3 readings should be taken one minute apart.
This blog post will dive more in detail how to take the 3 readings. Ill include how to average the 3 readings and what each reading means. In addition, should the 3 readings be taken on one arm or both?
BP Tip: Lower the 3 BP readings naturally by changing how you breathe? Theres a device approved by the FDA and The American Heart Association. It guides your breathing a few minutes a day which has been proven to lower BP. You can check it out in the manufacturers website by.
Disclaimer: Some links in this article are affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
What Are The Stages Of Hypertension
There are various degrees of high blood pressure. Know the difference between the stages to understand the reading.
- Elevated blood pressure means your systolic is 120 to 129 and your diastolic is less than 80.
- High blood pressure/hypertension stage 1 means your systolic is 130 to 139 or your diastolic is between 80 to 89.
- High blood pressure/hypertension stage 2 means your systolic is 140 or higher or your diastolic is 90 or higher.
- Hypertension crisis means you need to seek emergency medical attention because your systolic is higher than 180 and/or your diastolic is higher than 120.
It may take more than reading to confirm a hypertension diagnosis. There are times your blood pressure reading may be elevated because youre nervous about the test. Or theres stress in your life.
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Is There Anything Else I Need To Know About A Blood Pressure Measurement
If you were diagnosed with high blood pressure, your provider may recommend one or more of the following lifestyle changes.
- Exercise regularly. Staying active can help lower your blood pressure and also help manage your weight. Most adults should aim for 150 minutes of physical activity per week. Check with your provider before beginning an exercise program.
- Keep a healthy weight. If you are overweight, losing as little as 5 pounds can lower your blood pressure.
- Eat a healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetable, and whole grains. Limit foods high in saturated fat and total fat.
- Reduce salt in your diet. Most adults should have less than 1500 mg of salt per day.
- Limit alcohol use. If you choose to drink, limit yourself to one drink a day if you are a woman two drinks a day if you’re a man.
- Don’t smoke.
Low Systolic Blood Pressure
If the systolic blood pressure is lower than normal, its called hypotension. If this low blood pressure is serious enough, it can cause lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting. If it lasts long enough and it isnt treated, it may cause organs like your kidneys to start shutting down.
Systolic hypotension can occur if the amount of blood in your body becomes too low. This can happen if you are severely dehydrated or you have major bleeding there just isnt enough blood to push through the body.
Sometimes this low blood pressure happens when you change positions suddenly. You may feel dizzy when you stand up because gravity is pulling blood down toward your feet. This is a common condition called orthostatic hypotension.
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If You Get A High Blood Pressure Reading
- A single high reading is not an immediate cause for alarm. If you get a reading that is slightly or moderately higher than normal, take your blood pressure a few more times and consult your healthcare professional to verify if there s a health concern or whether there may be any issues with your monitor.
- If your blood pressure readings suddenly exceed 180/120 mm Hg, wait five minutes and test again. If your readings are still unusually high, contact your doctor immediately. You could be experiencing a hypertensive crisis.
- If your blood pressure is higher than 180/120 mm Hg and you are experiencing signs of possible organ damage such as chest pain, shortness of breath, back pain, numbness/weakness, change in vision, difficulty speaking, do not wait to see if your pressure comes down on its own. Call 911.
Side Effects Of Low Blood Pressure
Low blood pressure may not be discussed as often as high blood pressure, but it should be addressed, as prolonged low blood pressure can negatively affect your organs.
A certain amount of blood pressure is needed to maintain blood flow to the organs, says Dr. Wong. The blood supplies oxygen and nutrients to these organs. If the blood pressure is too low, an adequate blood supply cannot get to these organs.
If left untreated, low blood pressure can increase your risk of fainting, heart attack and organ damage, adds Dr. Desai.
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