How Can I Control My Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is very common in older people. As we age, our vascular system changes. Arteries get stiffer, so blood pressure goes up. This is true even for people who have heart-healthy habits. The good news is that blood pressure can be controlled in most people.
There are many lifestyle changes you can make to lower your risk of high blood pressure:
If these lifestyle changes don’t lower your blood pressure to a safe level, your doctor will also prescribe medicine. You may try several kinds or combinations of medicines before finding a plan that works best for you. Medicine can control your blood pressure, but it can’t cure it. You will likely need to take medicine for the rest of your life. Plan with your doctor how to manage your blood pressure.
Regular Blood Pressure Checks
All adults should have their blood pressure checked regularly.footnote 2
Your doctor can let you know how often you should get your blood pressure checked. It may depend on what your blood pressure is and your risk for heart disease. You can get your blood pressure checked during any routine medical visit.
The automated devices you find in grocery stores or drugstores may not be accurate. Having your blood pressure checked at the doctor’s office is best.
A home blood pressure monitor makes it easy to keep track of your blood pressure. It’s a good idea to bring your home monitor to the doctor’s office to check its accuracy.
What Are The Symptoms
High blood pressure doesn’t usually cause symptoms. Most people don’t know they have it until they go to the doctor for some other reason.
Very high blood pressure can cause severe headaches and vision problems. These symptoms can also be caused by dangerously high blood pressure called malignant high blood pressure. It may also be called a hypertensive crisis or hypertensive emergency. Malignant high blood pressure is a medical emergency.
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What Do The Diastolic And Systolic Numbers Mean
How is blood pressure measured?
Blood pressure is measured with a blood pressure cuff and recorded as two numbers, for example, 120/80 mm Hg . Blood pressure measurements are usually taken at the upper arm over the brachial artery.
- The top, the larger number is called the systolic pressure. This measures the pressure generated when the heart contracts . It reflects the pressure of the blood against arterial walls.
- At the bottom, the smaller number is called the diastolic pressure. This reflects the pressure in the arteries while the heart is filling and resting between heartbeats.
What Can You Do To Prevent High Blood Pressure
Making lifestyle changes can help you to prevent high blood pressure. You can:
- Stay at a healthy weight or lose extra weight.
- Eat heart-healthy foods.
- Eat less salt and salty foods.
- Exercise regularly.
- Cut back on drinking. Limit alcohol to 2 drinks a day and no more than 14 drinks a week for men and 9 drinks a week for women.
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Take Help From Family And Friends
It is advised to seek help from family, friends, and neighbors in case of uneasiness.
Visiting a crowded function increases the risk of hypertension by almost 52%.
Wondering how to quickly lower blood pressure in minutes?
One way is to be careful about your surroundings. If visiting someplace which might trigger anxiety, go with a family member.
That way, even if you feel mild discomfort, youll have someone by your side. It is good to have a known face around the time of crisis.
Remember hypertension is a product of irregular lifestyle and stress. If you have a close friend around, you might feel less anxious already.
Whos At Risk For Labile Hypertension
Labile hypertension tends to be situational. This means the spikes occur in response to stressful events a fender bender, intensive physical exertion or thinking about financial woes, for example. This helps distinguish labile hypertension from true hypertension, in which blood pressure is high all the time.
Although hypertension can develop at any time, it raises a red flag when it occurs in young people or after age 60.
People who develop hypertension in their 40s particularly if they have a family history of hypertension are more likely to have essential hypertension than labile hypertension. They tend to be overweight or have underlying dietary issues, such as excessive sodium intake or heavy alcohol consumption.
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What Is Good Blood Pressure
A good, normal blood pressure readingtaken while seated, with a blood pressure cuffshould be 120/80. The first number is the systolic blood pressure , and the second is the diastolic blood pressure . Anything over that is either considered elevated or high.
Those numbers apply across the board for adults over the age of 18, Dr. Osborne says. He notes that decades ago, good blood pressure numbers varied based on age, limits some people still cling to today. But in actuality, its all standardized to 120/80.
The vast majority of hypertension out there is in adults, he says. Its independent of age. It doesnt matter whether youre 21 or 81. The numbers are the same.
For adults, that is. For kids, its a little different. Blood pressure numbers are based on population and age, and are generally lower than with adults. Theres not a standardized set of guidelines for children, but certainly if you come across a kid that repeatedly has blood pressures that would be high according to the adult category, its high, Dr. Osborne explains.
When The Problem Is Autonomic Dysfunction
In labile hypertension, blood pressure tends to spike upwards. Blood pressure that swings in both directions may be a sign of a different problem called autonomic dysfunction.
People with this problem have difficulty regulating involuntary functions such as heart rate, breathing and body temperature, in addition to blood pressure. We usually send these patients to cardiology for testing, says Dr. Lioudis.
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What Tests Diagnose High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is measured with a blood pressure cuff . This may be done using a stethoscope and a cuff and gauge or by an automatic machine. It is a routine part of the physical examination and one of the vital signs often recorded for a patient visit. Other vital signs include pulse rate, respiratory rate , temperature, and weight.
The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology recommend specific steps to measure blood pressure in a medical setting.
- The patient should relax in a chair for at least five minutes, with the back supported and feet on the floor
- The patient should not have had caffeine, tobacco products or participated in any exercise for at least 30 minutes before the blood pressure check
- The patient should not talk for the five minute rest period
- The blood pressure cuff should not be placed over clothing instead it should be placed directly on the skin
- The arm being tested should be supported or be rested on a table or arm rest
- The cuff being used should be the appropriate size for the patient
- Blood pressure should be checked at least two times, separated by 1-2 minutes, and an average taken to estimate that personâs blood pressure
- For the first visit for a blood pressure check, the blood pressure reading should be measured in both arms and the higher of the two readings should be used to decide upon treatment
Other studies may be considered depending upon the individual patient’s needs
How Blood Pressure Is Measured
Hypertension can be mild, moderate or severe. Your blood pressure is naturally higher when you are exerting yourself, such as during physical exercise. It is only a concern if your blood pressure is high when you are at rest, because this means your heart is overworked and your arteries have extra stress in their walls.Blood pressure readings are a combination of two measurements. These are:
- Systolic is the highest pressure against the arteries as the heart pumps. The normal systolic pressure is usually between 110 and 130mmHg.
- Diastolic is the pressure against the arteries as the heart relaxes and fills with blood. The normal diastolic pressure is usually between 70 and 80mmHg.
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How To Lower Blood Pressure Naturally
The term lifestyle changes implies you will need to change your habits to bring your blood pressure down. Broadly speaking, these modifications are natural non-pharmaceutical ways of lowering blood pressure. Six methods have been proven effective in clinical studies, and two others are recommended:
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What Natural Remedies Therapies And Supplements Lower Blood Pressure
Alternative therapies may be helpful to people trying to control their blood pressure.
- Acupuncture and biofeedback are well-accepted alternative techniques that may help some people with high blood pressure.
- Techniques that induce relaxation and reduce stress are recommended. These include meditation, yoga, and relaxation training.
- These techniques alone may not control high blood pressure for many people. They should not be used as a substitute for medical therapy without first consulting with your health care practitioner.
Dietary supplements and alternative medications and therapies are sometimes recommended for high blood pressure.
- Examples include vitamins, garlic, fish oil, L-arginine, soy, coenzyme Q10, herbs, phytosterols, and chelation therapy.
- While these substances may be beneficial, the exact nature of their benefits is not known.
- Scientific studies have produced no evidence that these therapies lower blood pressure or prevent the complications of high blood pressure.
- Most of these substances are harmless if taken in moderate doses. Most people can take them without problems.
- Talk to your health care practitioner if you are considering any of these treatments. Substituting these therapies for medical therapies that have been shown to lower blood pressure and the risk of complications may have a harmful effect on your health.
Tips To Measure Your Blood Pressure Correctly
To determine whether you have hypertension, a medical professional will take a blood pressure reading. How you prepare for the test, the position of your arm, and other factors can change a blood pressure reading by 10% or more. That could be enough to hide high blood pressure, start you on a drug you don’t really need, or lead your doctor to incorrectly adjust your medications.
National and international guidelines offer specific instructions for measuring blood pressure. If a doctor, nurse, or medical assistant isn’t doing it right, don’t hesitate to ask him or her to get with the guidelines.
Here’s what you can do to ensure a correct reading:
Don’t drink a caffeinated beverage or smoke during the 30 minutes before the test.
Sit quietly for five minutes before the test begins.
During the measurement, sit in a chair with your feet on the floor and your arm supported so your elbow is at about heart level.
The inflatable part of the cuff should completely cover at least 80% of your upper arm, and the cuff should be placed on bare skin, not over a shirt.
Don’t talk during the measurement.
Have your blood pressure measured twice, with a brief break in between. If the readings are different by 5 points or more, have it done a third time.
For more on getting your blood pressure under control, buy Controlling Your Blood Pressure, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Low Blood Pressure
Low blood pressure often has no symptoms, but can sometimes mean that not enough blood is flowing to your brain or organs. This can cause symptoms such as:
- feeling dizzy, faint or light-headed
- feeling unsteady
- suddenly noticing your heartbeat
If you have these symptoms, stop what youre doing and sit down or lie down in case you fall, and drink some water.
Speak to your doctor or nurse if you experience these symptoms. As well as being unpleasant, they could mean youre at risk of having a fall. They could also be a sign of another health problem.
How To Lower Blood Pressure Quickly
First and most importantly, if you think youre having a complication of high blood pressure such as a stroke, a heart attack, or something else, seek immediate medical attention. Dont try to solve problems like these on your ownyou need comprehensive care.
Otherwise, when you feel your blood pressure may be too high and you want to lower it quickly, Dr. Osborne suggests calming down. Stop what youre doing and sit. Take some deep breaths. If you find that doesnt help, then call your doctor. If its a continual problem, try exercising and altering your diet it can take a few weeks or up to a month to see the effects of that in your blood pressure, so keep plugging away for the best results.
Keep in mind that in some cases, blood pressure medication may be necessary if you cant lower high blood pressure through diet and lifestyle changes. Those drugs will be the quickest path to lower blood pressure levelsoften taking only minutes to even your blood pressure out. Finding the right medication might be the only way to control high blood pressure in some cases, like resistant hypertension. A rule of thumb is to start blood pressure medications and make lifestyle changes. As blood pressure improves with lifestyle modifications, medications can be weaned off.
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Blood Pressure Lying Down Vs Standing
Without blood pressure, our body would not receive the oxygen and nutrients it needs to function properly. The heart has two motions contracting and relaxing, so blood pressure is, therefore, recorded as two numbers over each other. Systolic is the actual beat of the heart and diastolic is when the heart relaxes. Systolic pressure is listed over diastolic, such as 120 over 80, which is normal blood pressure.
All sorts of conditions can have an impact on your blood pressure reading. Disease, stress, weight, and even posture can impact your blood pressure level. Blood pressure lying down verses standing has the same variations as lying down vs. sitting. Moving from a standing to a supine position could result in different readings.
What Can I Eat To Lower My Blood Pressure
Theres actually a specific diet designed for heart health called the DASH Diet. It stands for dietary approaches to stop hypertension and was developed by the National Institutes of Health. Following the DASH Diet can lower blood pressure just as effectively as taking a pill, Dr. Osborne says. It highlights foods that are high in magnesium, potassium, and calcium, while limiting salt and sodium intake. Heres some of what youll eat on the diet.
- Dark chocolate in moderation
Some of the biggest things to eliminate are excess sodium , processed foods, sugar, condiments , bread, and cheese.
Apple cider vinegar has long been touted as a remedy for high blood pressure, but Dr. Osborne notes that no comprehensive clinical trial has been able to determine how effective it actually is. That being said, hes not against patients trying itif you find that taking apple cider vinegar every day keeps your blood pressure low, then keep doing it. Same for alcohol and caffeinated drinks, as long as youre having them in moderation.
People that drink modestly, so one to two drinks, may actually see a modest effect on cardiovascular events and may see modestly lower blood pressure, Dr. Osborne explains. However, if you drink anything more than that, it clearly elevates blood pressure.
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What Is The Correct Way To Measure Blood Pressure
Learn the correct way to have your blood pressure taken, whether youre getting it checked at the doctors office or checking it yourself at home. Use this checklist:
- Dont eat or drink anything 30 minutes before you take your blood pressure.
- Empty your bladder before your reading.
- Sit in a comfortable chair with your back supported for at least 5 minutes before your reading.
- Put both feet flat on the ground and keep your legs uncrossed.
- Rest your arm with the cuff on a table at chest height.
- Make sure the blood pressure cuff is snug but not too tight. The cuff should be against your bare skin, not over clothing.
- Do not talk while your blood pressure is being measured.
If you are keeping track of your blood pressure at home, use these additional tips.
How Do I Know If I Have High Blood Pressure
Theres only one way to know if you have high blood pressure: Have a doctor or other health professional measure it. Measuring your blood pressure is quick and painless.
Talk with your health care team about regularly measuring your blood pressure at home, also called self-measured blood pressure monitoring.
High blood pressure is called the silent killer because it usually has no warning signs or symptoms, and many people do not know they have it.
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