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How Can I Tell If My Blood Pressure Is High

If You Have High Blood Pressure You Have To Take Medication

2 Simple Things Lowered My Blood Pressure Without Meds

Lifestyle changes are the first step for blood pressure that’s a little high. You may not need medicine if you exercise, eat healthy, lose weight or quit smoking if you need to, limit alcohol, and cut salt.

If that doesn’t work, your doctor will likely prescribe medication. If medicine brings your blood pressure down to normal, don’t stop taking it. And do keep the healthy lifestyle habits. You need both to lower your chances of having a stroke or other serious health problem.

When To See A Doctor For High Blood Pressure

Since the majority of individuals living with hypertension dont experience symptoms, its likely youll find out about your high blood pressure numbers during a doctors appointment. After being diagnosed with hypertension, you should continue to see your doctor, especially if you cant control your blood pressure with prescribed medication or recommended lifestyle changes.

Youre experiencing a hypertensive crisis

You should also see or contact your doctor if you experience a related high blood pressure event called a hypertensive crisis. There are two main types of hypertensive crises:

Hypertensive emergency

A hypertensive emergency is a rare medical emergency where your blood pressure is 180/120 mm Hg or higher and you are experiencing symptoms of target organ damage. If this happens to you, call emergency medical services right away.

Symptoms of target organ damage include:

  • Difficulty speaking

Hypertensive urgency

If youre experiencing elevated blood pressure of 180/120 mm Hg or higher but are not experiencing any of the above symptoms, this is called hypertensive urgency. Wait five minutes and take your blood pressure a second time. If it is just as high, call your doctors office. Your doctor might want to adjust your medications. Hypertensive urgency does not usually result in hospitalization.

How To Prevent High Blood Pressure And Ways To Lower It

“The good news is that you can take steps to prevent or manage high blood pressure,” Dr. Mitchell emphasizes. “Many risk factors for high blood pressure, such as obesity and stress, can be controlled by lifestyle changes. Eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and exercising regularly can help to keep your blood pressure in check. In addition, managing stress through relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation can also help to reduce your risk of developing hypertension. For example, if you already have high blood pressure, there are medications available that can help to control it. Finally, work with your healthcare provider to find your best treatment plan. Taking steps to prevent or manage high blood pressure can help protect your health and reduce your risk of developing severe complications.”

Dr. Mitchell says this “doesn’t constitute medical advice and by no means are these answers meant to be comprehensive. Rather, it’s to encourage discussions about health choices.”

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What Are The Types Of High Blood Pressure

If you have high blood pressure with no known single cause, this is called essential hypertension or primary hypertension. Most people have this type of hypertension. If you have high blood pressure which is caused by another health problem, this is known as secondary hypertension, and treating the cause should bring your blood pressure back down to normal.

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.

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Check Your Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is the force or pressure exerted in the arteries by the blood as it is pumped around the body by the heart. It is recorded as two measurements:

  • Systolic pressure: pressure in the arteries during the period of the heart’s contraction
  • Diastolic pressure: pressure in the arteries when the heart is relaxed, between heartbeats

A doctor or nurse can listen to your blood pressure by placing a stethoscope on your artery and pumping up a cuff placed around your arm. The blood pressure is read on a special meter called a sphygmomanometer.

Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury , which refers to how high the pressure in the arteries can raise a column of mercury in the sphygmomanometer.

Where Can I Get My Blood Pressure Checked

You can get your blood pressure measured

  • By a health care team member at a doctors office.
  • At a pharmacy that has a digital blood pressure measurement machine.
  • With a home blood pressure monitor that you can use yourself.

Take this form pdf icon with you on your first blood pressure visit to record important blood pressure-related information.

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How Blood Pressure Is Measured

It is best to measure blood pressure when you are relaxed and sitting. Blood pressure is usually measured by wrapping an inflatable pressure cuff around your upper arm.

Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers, such as 120/80. The larger number indicates the pressure in the arteries as the heart pumps out blood during each beat. This is called the systolic blood pressure.

The lower number indicates the pressure as the heart relaxes before the next beat. This is called the diastolic blood pressure. Both are measured in units called millimetres of mercury .

What A Blood Test Can Do For High Blood Pressure

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Once youve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, routine lab tests are recommended before a doctor determines your treatment . One of those tests will be a blood test. A blood test will show a doctor the levels of different substances in your blood for the following:

  • Your cholesterol levels.
  • Electrolytes like sodium, potassium, chloride and bicarbonate.

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What Are The Treatments For High Blood Pressure

Treatments for high blood pressure include heart-healthy lifestyle changes and medicines.

You will work with your provider to come up with a treatment plan. It may include only the lifestyle changes. These changes, such as heart-healthy eating and exercise, can be very effective. But sometimes the changes do not control or lower your high blood pressure. Then you may need to take medicine. There are different types of blood pressure medicines. Some people need to take more than one type.

If your high blood pressure is caused by another medical condition or medicine, treating that condition or stopping the medicine may lower your blood pressure.

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

What Do Blood Pressure Numbers Mean

Blood pressure is measured using two numbers:

The first number, called systolic blood pressure, measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats.

The second number, called diastolic blood pressure, measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart rests between beats.

If the measurement reads 120 systolic and 80 diastolic, you would say, 120 over 80, or write, 120/80 mmHg.

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Have Your Blood Pressure Measured Regularly

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.

Other Tests For High Blood Pressure

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In addition to a blood test, other tests will be recommended to help determine the cause of your high blood pressure and treatment. They are not used to detect high blood pressure. Those tests may include the following:

Urine test: A urine test can help determine a cause of high blood pressure. This test may show possible diabetes, kidney problems or drugs contributing to high blood pressure.

Echocardiogram: This uses sound waves to create pictures of your heart . It can help determine the following problems which may affect blood pressure:

  • Hearts pumping strength.
  • Any growths or tumors around your valves.
  • Any problems with blood vessels around the heart.
  • Holes in the heart chambers.
  • Blood clots.

Electrocardiogram: An EKG assesses your heart rhythm . If your heart rhythm is abnormal, it can affect your blood pressure.

Cat Scan or MRI: These 2 tests allow a doctor to see inside your body . For high blood pressure, this test may detect any tumors, blood clots or excess fluid on or around your kidneys or adrenal glands.

Ultrasound: This test can show a doctor any blood flow problems by checking blood vessels and kidneys. To expand ultrasound testing, recently a small patch was created that can attach to the skin like a bandage. The patch contains ultrasound transducers and can be placed over any artery selected .

The testing mentioned can help a doctor recommend a treatment for high blood pressure. One of those treatments is your nutrition.

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When To See A Doctor

If you have any of these symptoms, see a doctor immediately. You could be having a hypertensive crisis that could lead to a heart attack or stroke. You may also have another serious health condition.

Most of the time, high blood pressure doesnât cause headaches or nosebleeds. But, this can happen in a hypertensive crisis when blood pressure is above 180/120. If your blood pressure is extremely high and you have these symptoms, rest for 5 minutes and check again. If your blood pressure is still unusually high, itâs a medical emergency. Call 911.

Itâs important to remember that high blood pressure doesnât usually have symptoms. So, everyone should get it checked regularly. The American Heart Association recommends that adults with normal blood pressure should get blood pressure checked each year at routine health visits. You may also have it checked at a health resource fair or other locations in your community.

If you have high blood pressure, your doctor might recommend that you monitor it more often at home. At-home monitors may work better than store-based machines. Your doctor will also recommend making lifestyle changes along with medications to lower your blood pressure.

Untreated hypertension can lead to serious diseases, including stroke, heart disease, kidney failure and eye problems.

Symptoms Of High Blood Pressure

Hypertension doesnt normally generate any outwardly visible symptoms. It can take years or even decades for the condition to reach a level severe enough for symptoms to become obvious. Even then, these symptoms may not even be hypertension, but some other ailment. The symptoms that have been associated with hypertension, however, can include:

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention. While this may not mean you have high blood pressure, waiting for a symptom of this condition to appear can be fatal. The surest way to know if you have hypertension is to get regular blood pressure readings. Make sure your doctor takes your blood pressure during every visit.

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What Is A High Blood Pressure Reading

You will probably be diagnosed with high blood pressure if your readings are consistently 140/90mmHg or higher over a number of weeks. This is the cut-off point many GPs use for diagnosing high blood pressure.

You might also have high blood pressure if just one of the numbers is higher than it should be so if the top number is over 140mmHg or the bottom number is over 90mmHg.

A single high reading doesnt necessarily mean you have high blood pressure, as many things can affect your blood pressure throughout the day and it could just be a one-off. If you have a high reading, your doctor or nurse will want to see if it stays high over time before diagnosing high blood pressure.

What Are The Possible Complications Of High Blood Pressure

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Knowing about the potential complications of high blood pressure can help you to know if you have high blood pressure.

Heart Diseases Heart failure when the heart is unable to pump enough blood, it can lead to swelling in legs, feet and cause breathing difficulty. Heart attack can be a result of sudden blocking of blood circulation to the heart muscle, presented with chest pain, difficulty in breathing, sweating and nausea.

Stroke When blood supplying the brain gets blocked, cutting off the oxygen supply, it can result in a medical emergency. It is presented with sudden onset of weakness or numbness in arms, jaws and difficulty in speech.

Circulatory Problems An abnormal bulge in the arterial wall is called aneurysm, which blocks blood flow and causes obstruction. Peripheral artery disease, which is building up of plaque on the inner lining of arteries of legs affecting blood flow symptoms include heaviness and pain in legs, swelling, cramping and numbness in buttocks and legs after walking for long.

Others High blood pressure for a long time can cause damage to the kidneys, eyes and other organs, hence timely treatment and prevention is necessary.

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Good Sleep Can Prevent And Manage High Blood Pressure

Most people experience a dip in blood pressure during the deepest stage of sleep , which is the body’s normal and healthy reaction to sleep. Not having that nighttime dip is a risk factor for heart disease and may increase daytime blood pressure.

Typically people spend 90 minutes to two hours in slow wave sleep per night. A recent study published in Hypertension found that men who got less slow wave sleep each night were a higher risk for hypertension than men who got more deep sleep.

While sleep disorders, like sleep apnea, and age can both affect the amount of deep sleep you get, there are steps you can take to ensure a good night’s sleep. Getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule and being more active during the day can help improve the quality of your sleep.

Treatments For High Or Low Blood Pressure

While high blood pressure can be serious, the good news is that its usually manageable through medication or lifestyle changes, or both. Some common lifestyle recommendations to help keep your pressure in check include:

  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables.
  • Exercise regularly at least 90 minutes per week or more.
  • Lower the amount of sodium in your diet.
  • Dont drink alcohol excessively.
  • Keep a healthy weight.

Immediate symptoms of low blood pressure can sometimes be eased simply by sitting or lying down. It can also help to elevate your feet above the level of your heart. If your low blood pressure does not cause any significant impacts in your daily life, you may not require further treatment.

Long-term treatment for hypotension can vary depending on your symptoms and how low your numbers are. Your doctor may focus on dealing with any underlying health conditions causing your low blood pressure.

They may decide to administer intravenous fluids to provide your body with nutrients. Wearing compression socks on your calves and thighs may help improve the blood flow from the veins in your legs to your heart.

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How Common Is High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a common condition, it is estimated that 18% of adult men and 13% of adult women have high blood pressure but are not getting treatment for it.

In 90-95% of cases, there is no single identifiable reason for a rise in blood pressure. But all available evidence shows that lifestyle plays a significant role in regulating your blood pressure.

Risk factors for high blood pressure include:

  • age
  • poor diet
  • being overweight
  • excessive alcohol consumption.

Also, for reasons not fully understood, people of Afro-Caribbean and South Asian origin are more likely to develop high blood pressure than other ethnic groups.

You Shouldnt Exercise If You Have High Blood Pressure

Large Arms and the Wrong Size Blood Pressure Cuff

Regular moderate exercise not only helps bring down your blood pressure it strengthens your heart, zaps stress, and helps you stay at a healthy weight. If you have high blood pressure, ask your doctor what kind of exercise to do and how much.

A brisk half-hour walk 5 days a week is a good routine, but starting with even 10 minutes a day helps. How brisk? If you can walk and sing at the same time, you need to work a little harder. If you can walk and talk, you’re moving at a good pace.

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What Are Ways To Manage Your Blood Pressure

The best treatment for high blood pressure is often diet, exercise and lifestyle changes. Here are things you can do:

  • Make changes to your diet There are plenty of ways to lower your blood pressure through diet. You can start by making small changes like avoiding high-sodium foods or swapping out your daily snack for a healthier option. The ultimate goal is to create a heart healthy diet you can sustain with your own willpower and the support of your family, doctor and friends.
  • Try to maintain a healthy bodyweight If youre overweight or obese, the extra strain on your heart can contribute to high blood pressure. But losing even 10 pounds can make a big difference.
  • Exercise regularly Aim for a total of 30 minutes of exercise most days.
  • Limit alcoholic drinks Alcohol increases blood pressure. Women should try to limit themselves to one drink a day. For men, the number should be no more than two.
  • Improve sleep If you get less than six hours of sleep each night, you may have an increased chance of getting high blood pressure. So, make snoozing a priority. If insomnia or sleep apnea are getting in the way, consider talking to a sleep medicine doctor.
  • Stop smoking Tobacco products are incredibly bad for your heart. If you smoke or vape, quitting is the best thing you can do for your heart and the rest of your body.
  • Reduce stress High stress levels can increase blood pressures. So, look for ways to relieve stress such as deep breathing and guided imagery.

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