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Dangerous High Blood Pressure Numbers

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High Blood Pressure Numbers: Normal vs. Dangerous

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What Are The Symptoms Of Hypertension

Hypertension is commonly known as a silent killer. An estimated 46% of adults with hypertension are unaware of their condition. This medical condition can develop without warning signs and visible symptoms.

In some cases, when symptoms start to show, these symptoms may include:

  • Buzzing in ears

When the case is severe, symptoms may include:

Severe hypertension requires immediate medical intervention. The symptoms can be fatal and put you at risk for heart attack and stroke. When severe hypertension remains uncontrolled, the prognosis is often poor. Prolonged excessive blood pressure in the body can result in hardening of the arteries, and the slowing or even blocking of proper circulation of blood and oxygen to the heart.

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What Does Blood Pressure Refer To

Blood pressure refers to the force exerted by circulating blood on the walls of blood vessels and constitutes one of the bodies principal vital signs. The pressure of the circulating blood as blood moves through your arteries, arterioles, capillaries, and veins. The term blood pressure generally refers to your arterial pressure, i.e., the pressure in the larger arteries, arteries being the blood vessels which take blood away from the heart.

Blood pressure is always given as two numbers

  • Systolic Pressure
  • Diastolic Pressure

When the measurements are written, both are written as one above, or before, the other with the systolic being the first number, for example 120/75 .

Blood pressure measurement is NOT the same as your heart rate or maximum heart rate measurement. Check what your heart rate for your age should be. You can calculate your predicted maximum heart rate by using the calculation: 220 = Age Predicted Maximum Heart Rate or see our Target Heart Rate Calculator and Chart.

How Often Should You Get Your Blood Pressure Checked

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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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How Does High Blood Pressure Affect Your Body

Consistent high blood pressure damages the delicate tissues inside your arteries and leads to serious health problems, including:

Stroke: Narrowing of arteries and decreased supply of blood and oxygen to the brain due to high BP can lead to stroke. In fact, high blood pressure puts you at four times higher risk for stroke.Heart Attack: High blood pressure can cause hardening and thickening of the arteries, which can lead to a heart attack. People with high blood pressure are at three times higher risk for heart attack than healthy individuals.Kidney Damage or Failure: High blood pressure weakens and narrows the blood vessels of your kidneys, leading to kidney damage and failure.Eye Damage: High BP can cause thickening of blood vessels in the eyes, which can lead to vision loss.Vascular Dementia: Uncontrolled high blood pressure can also affect your ability to think, remember and learn. Narrowed and blocked arteries can limit the flow of blood to the brain, leading to vascular dementia

Thats why, it is extremely important to get your blood pressure monitored by your physician at regular intervals. Through guided medication and healthy lifestyle practices, your EPIC provider can help you manage your blood pressure and keep it well under control.

How Is High Blood Pressure Diagnosed

High blood pressure is usually diagnosed by a health care professional after a blood pressure screening during an annual checkup. If your blood pressure is usually normal, one high reading is likely nothing to worry about.

Blood pressure can be temporarily raised by lots of different things such as physical activity, dehydration, what you eat or drink, and even the temperature outside. Just being in the doctors office can raise blood pressure.

So before diagnosing high blood pressure, your doctor will likely look at past readings and possibly take another reading. If theyre still not sure, they may recommend additional testing with a home blood pressure monitoring system. And depending on your risk factors or other health conditions, you may be referred to a cardiologist who specializes in cardiovascular diseases .

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Common Causes Of High Blood Pressure Spikes

Some people with high blood pressure will experience sharp rises in their blood pressure. These spikes, which typically last only a short period of time, are also known as sudden high blood pressure. These are some possible causes:

  • Certain medications or combinations of medications
  • Chronic kidney disease

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What Does High Blood Pressure Feel Like

Blood Pressure: How High is Too High and How Do I Lower it Safely?

High blood pressure often doesn’t have any symptoms, so you usually don’t feel it. Thats why its important to stay up to date on your preventive care screenings can help identify potential problems like elevated blood pressure when its easiest to treat.

If your blood pressure reaches extremely high levels, you may get a headache, shortness of breath or a nosebleed. However, these symptoms may not be specific to your blood pressure. Critically high blood pressure can be caused by conditions that can have similar symptoms, like strokes, heart attacks, heart failure, kidney failure or certain drug interactions.

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Danger #: Heart Attack Or Heart Disease

High blood pressure damages the body if left unchecked. Remember that the health of blood vessels is vital for every part of the body, including organs, to receive the blood-oxygen it needs to function. Hypertension raises the risk of various heart-related diseases and disorders, including:

Coronary artery disease: This disorder affects the arteries responsible for supplying blood to the heart. CAD causes the narrowing of these arteries, cutting off needed blood-oxygen. CAD may lead to heart attack, chest pain, or irregular heartbeat.

Heart failure: The strain that hypertension places on the heart will cause it to weaken. Eventually, the heart may not be able to sustain the extra work required of it, which may lead to heart failure.

Lowering Systolic Blood Pressure More May Cut Health Risks

One major study found that lowering systolic blood pressure to well below the commonly recommended level also greatly lowered the number of cardiovascular events and deaths among people at least 50 years old with high blood pressure.

When study participants achieved a systolic blood pressure target of 120 mmHg compared to the higher target of 140 mmHg recommended for most people, and 150 for people over 60 issues such as heart attack, stroke and heart failure were reduced by almost one-third, and the risk of death by almost one-fourth.

âThatâs important information, because more lives may be saved and more deaths may be prevented if we maintain lower blood pressure in certain patients,â says Lynne Braun, NP, PhD, a nurse practitioner at the Rush Heart Center for Women.

Braun cautions, however, that your personal blood pressure target depends on a variety of things, including your current blood pressure, lifestyle, risk factors, other medications you are taking and your age. âEvery person has to be evaluated as an individual,â she says. âRealistically, we canât get everybody down to 120, and trying to do so may create unintended problems.â

It can be dangerous, for instance, to keep an older person on medications that have unsafe side effects, such as diuretics , which can cause dehydration and dizziness in older adults.

And there can be other issues involved with taking multiple medications, such as cost and compliance.

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Which Blood Pressure Number Is Important

Q.When I am monitoring my blood pressure, which number is most important top, bottom, or both?

A. While both numbers in a blood pressure reading are essential for diagnosing and treating high blood pressure, doctors primarily focus on the top number, also known as systolic pressure.

Systolic pressure reflects the force produced by the heart when it pumps blood out to the body, while diastolic blood pressure is the pressure in your blood vessels when the heart is at rest.

Over the years, research has found that both numbers are equally important in monitoring heart health. However, most studies show a greater risk of stroke and heart disease related to higher systolic pressures compared with elevated diastolic pressures. That’s especially true in people ages 50 and older, which is why doctors tend to monitor the top number more closely. The reason for the difference in risk may be related to the force put on the arteries when blood rushes out of the heart.

The American Heart Association now defines high blood pressure as 130/80 mm Hg or higher. The new guidelines recommend you check your blood pressure often, ideally with a home monitor, to help your doctor determine if you need to make lifestyle changes, begin medication, or alter your current therapy.

by Howard LeWine, M.D.

New Findings Focus On Diastolic Blood Pressurethe Second Number In Your Blood Pressure Reading

Blood Pressure Heart Stroke Foundation South Africa

Image: mangostock/Thinkstock

Of the two numbers that make up your blood pressure reading, the first one typically gets more attention. Thats because as people age, their arteries lose their elasticity, and the inner walls are more likely to accumulate cholesterol-laden plaque. These factors tend to raise systolic blood pressure, a measure of the pressure inside the arteries when the heart contracts to pump blood throughout the body.

Current guidelines suggest that most people should aim for a systolic blood pressure reading of 140 millimeters of mercury or lower. But last year, a widely publicized clinical trial suggested that a target of 120 mm Hg could further reduce the dangers associated with high blood pressure .

Yet reaching that lower target required an average of three blood pressure medications, which resulted in more side effects. Now, two recent observational studies highlight some concerns about blood pressure thats too low, particularly with regard to diastolic blood pressure. Diastolic blood pressure represents the pressure between beats when the heart relaxes.

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What Considered Dangerous Hypertension

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is difficult to diagnose without regular checkups. For this reason, people call it as the silent killer.

Check the range of healthy blood pressure and learn more about what puts you at risk for hypertension to prevent life-threatening issues. If this disease happened to you, read on to learn about hypertensive crisis and how a medical ID bracelet can save your life.

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Who Is Considered Overweight Or Obese

The CDC defines adult overweight and obesity as weight that is higher than what is considered as a healthy weight for a given height.

An adult who is 20 years of age or older is considered overweight if he or she has a body mass index between 25 and 29.9, and obese if he or she has a BMI of 30 or more. While BMI may not tell the whole story when it comes to weight, it is widely used as a metric to determine overweight and obesity.

Have Your Blood Pressure Measured Regularly

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Have your blood pressure measured regularly and know what your blood pressure is. Remember that both numbers are important. If either the systolic or diastolic number is high , then your doctor will need to further check your blood pressure. A blood pressure measurement of less than 120/80 mmHg is very good unless it causes dizziness.

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What Can I Do If I Find Out My Blood Pressure Is Dangerously High

Normally, high blood pressure, sometimes called the silent killer, has few symptoms. But sometimes, a patient may be prompted to check their blood pressure because of troubling symptoms like headache, chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea, and loss of balance. These may be signs of dangerously high blood pressure, also known as a hypertensive crisiswhen your first blood pressure number is greater than 180 or your second number is greater than 120.

In this scenario, do NOT try to lower your blood pressure on your own. A hypertensive crisis is an emergency situation that can end in death, so someone nearby should call 9-1-1 immediately. Emergency personnel will begin the process of lowering your blood pressure in the ambulance while on the way to the hospital. Even then, they will follow guidelines on how quickly they can safely lower your blood pressure and will monitor your blood pressure closely.

Your Blood Pressure Numbers And What They Mean

Your blood pressure is recorded as two numbers:

  • Systolic blood pressure indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls when the heart beats.
  • Diastolic blood pressure indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls while the heart is resting between beats.

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Hypertension By The Numbers

Blood pressure is read as the top number/bottomnumber.

What do these numbers represent? The top number is the systolic pressure in your heart and blood vessel system when the heart is pumping. The bottom number is the diastolic pressure when the heart is filling.

When the heart is pumping, blood is injected into the blood vessels and the pressure will be higher. When the heart is filling between beats, the system is at rest and the pressure will be lower.


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