What Is Systolic Blood Pressure
Systolic blood pressure measures how much pressure your blood exerts against your artery walls. The pressure within our arteries changes with every heartbeat, says Ian Del Conde Pozzi, M.D., a cardiologist and vascular medicine specialist at the Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute. When the heart contracts, it pumps extra blood into the circulatory system, increasing the pressure. That increase is measured by systolic blood pressure.
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.
Eat Healthy High Protein Foods
A long-term study concluded in 2014 found that people who ate more protein had a lower risk of high blood pressure. For those who ate an average of 100 grams of protein per day, there was a 40 percent lower risk of having high blood pressure than those on a low protein diet .
Those who also added regular fiber into their diet saw up to a 60 percent reduction of risk.
However, a high protein diet may not be for everyone. Those with kidney disease may need to use caution. Its best to talk with your doctor.
Its fairly easy to consume 100 grams of protein daily on most types of diets.
- cheese, such as cheddar
A 3.5-ounce serving of salmon can have as much as 22 grams of protein, while a 3.5-ounce serving of chicken breast might contain 30 grams of protein.
With regard to vegetarian options, a half-cup serving of most types of beans contains 7 to 10 grams of protein. Two tablespoons of peanut butter would provide 8 grams .
These supplements are readily available and have demonstrated promise for lowering blood pressure:
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid
Adding omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids or fish oil to your diet can have many benefits.
A meta-analysis of fish oil and blood pressure found a mean blood pressure reduction in those with high blood pressure of 4.5 mm Hg systolic and 3.0 mm Hg diastolic .
This protein complex derived from milk may have several health benefits in addition to possibly lowering blood pressure .
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Who Is Affected By High Blood Pressure
Approximately 1 in 3, more than 100 million, American adults have high blood pressure. But only half of those people have their condition under control. Many people develop high blood pressure when they are in their late 30s or early 40s, and it occurs more frequently as people age. However, because of the obesity epidemic, more and more children are also developing high blood pressure.
Follow Up Your Blood Pressure
When making lifestyle changes, it is helpful to follow your blood pressure regularly. This can be done at your doctors office, or even better on your own. Just make sure you bring your home blood pressure monitor in to your doctors office on occasion to make sure it matches with their readings.
We should focus on lifestyle interventions that address some of the root causes of hypertension, reserving medications for blood pressure that is very high or isnt responsive to these interventions.
With good diet, exercise, and avoidance of substances that raise blood pressure, it is often possible to improve hypertension without medications.
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Diagnosing High Or Low Blood Pressure
Only one of your numbers needs to be higher than it should be to be diagnosed with high blood pressure, and only one needs to be lower than it should be to be diagnosed with low blood pressure.
So if your top number is over 140 or the bottom number is over 90, you may be diagnosed with , regardless of the other number. If your top number is under 90 or your bottom number is under 60, you may be diagnosed with . Use the to see where your numbers sit.
If your top number is consistently higher than 140mmHg, but the bottom number is healthy – this is known as Isolated Systolic Hypertension. If the bottom number is consistently higher than 90mmHg but the top number is healthy – this is known as Isolated Diastolic Hypertension.
Making sure your readings arent a one-off
A single high reading doesnt necessarily mean you have high blood pressure, as many things can affect your blood pressure throughout the day, such as the temperature, when you last ate, and if youre feeling stressed.
Your doctor or nurse will probably want to measure your blood pressure a number of times over a few weeks to make sure the reading wasnt just a one off and that your blood pressure stays high over time.
Read about how , getting a , the you might have if you have a high blood pressure reading, and .
Preventing High Blood Pressure
To keep your blood pressure in the normal range, your daily habits are key. These things help:
Donât smoke. Among the many health problems that smoking causes, it raises your blood pressure.
Make physical activity a habit. Most experts recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity five or more times a week. Or you could do a harder activity for a shorter period of time per session.
Eat right. Read food labels to see how much sodium is in a serving. Check with your doctor to find out what your daily limit should be. Include a lot of vegetables and fruits, along with whatever else you choose to put on your plate.
Stick to a healthy weight. Extra pounds raise your blood pressure. If youâre not sure what a healthy weight would be for you, ask your doctor.
Get enough sleep. For most adults, thatâs 7-8 hours of sleep per night, on a regular basis.
If you drink alcohol, limit it to no more than one drink a day if youâre a woman and up to two drinks a day if youâre a man.
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Eat More Of These Foods:
- Fruits like apples, avocados, kiwi, lemons and blueberries.
- Vegetables like spinach, broccoli, carrots and sweet potatoes.
- Fish and skinless chicken. The skin on the chicken contains a lot of fat so take it off prior to cooking. Some of the best fish are wild caught salmon, cod, tuna and sardines.
- The next food Im completely nuts about which are, you guessed it, nuts. You cant go wrong with almonds, walnuts, pecans or all natural peanut butter with nothing added.
- Whole grains like brown rice and oatmeal.
How Can I Lower My Blood Pressure Immediately
High blood pressure is a dangerous condition that impacts nearly half of adults in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . In 2018, close to half a million deaths in the country had high blood pressure as a primary or contributing cause. Occurring when the force of blood pressing against artery walls is consistently too high, high blood pressure requires a long-term care approach. However, there are several ways to temporarily lower your blood pressure in just a matter of minutesgive these methods a try if youd like to lower your blood pressure immediately:
- Take a warm bath or shower. Stay in your shower or bath for at least 15 minutes and enjoy the warm water. This can also help reduce muscle tension.
- Do a breathing exercise. Take a deep breath from your core, hold your breath for about two seconds, then slowly exhale. Pause for a few moments and repeat.
- Relax! Stress is a key contributor to high blood pressure, so do whatever you can to relax. This may be as simple as sitting in a quiet room for a few moments, doing a few stretching exercises, reading a good book, or meditating.
These techniques can provide a quick fix, but its important to implement a long-term care plan to successfully manage your high blood pressure. Some of the most effective ways to lower blood pressure include:
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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.
To Salt Or Not To Salt
Eating less salt may lower your blood pressure a little.
However, despite various trials showing a slight reduction of blood pressure with lower sodium diets, we lack definitive evidence that less salt in our food will reduce the risk of heart disease or death.30
In addition, its unclear if sodium reduction is as important as increasing potassium.31 Some studies suggest that the sodium-to-potassium ratio is better at predicting cardiovascular disease and death than the intake of either nutrient alone.32
Regardless of whether sodium or potassium is more important, we should note that much of the salt we ingest comes from fast food, ready-made meals, bread and soft drinks. Therefore, most low-carb diets automatically lower salt intake, because these foods are avoided.33 Furthermore, when starting a low-carb diet, insulin levels tend to drop, which is thought to help explain why blood pressure drops on low carb.34
Lastly, large observational trials, such as the PURE study, suggest that the risk of heart attack and death increases with sodium intakes less than 3000mg and greater than 7000mg per day. Moderate intakes between these amounts were not associated with increased risk.35
With all the conflicting evidence, its unclear whether you will become healthier by eating less salt. However, if you stick to a low-carb diet, you should be able to enjoy salt in moderation without excess risk.36
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What Causes Low Blood Pressure
There are many possible reasons for low blood pressure, according to both Dr. Wong and Dr. Desai, including:
- Heart problems like heart failure or low heart rates
- Endocrine problems, such as parathyroid disease, adrenal insufficiency or hypoglycemia
- Side effects of medications for high blood pressure, prostatic hypertrophy, Parkinsons disease, depression and erectile dysfunction
- Massive weight loss
- Rapid heart rate
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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What Is The Potency Of The Herbs
As mentioned before, its important to rely on trusted professionals to determine the quality and potency of herbs, along with your own research on processing and manufacturing practices.
According to Mannur, verya refers to the potency of an herb in the Ayurvedic tradition. She stresses that herbs are more potent than simply consuming food, and they should be administered in the proper dosage.
This can even be the case with common culinary spices, like black pepper, she says.
Mannur also says herbs that arent grown in their natural habitat might not be as potent as cultivated herbs.
Zappin emphasizes that finding the right herb for you is essential to success with herbal medicine. Dosage can often affect potency, but the point is moot if the herb isnt the best choice for your needs.
I appreciate looking to traditional methods and the intersection of quality and dosing. I also think that finding the right herb for an individual can be more important than the most potent, Zappin adds.
Causes Of High Blood Pressure
According to Walker, “High blood pressure can be caused by numerous factors. Of course, an increase in blood pressure temporarily is not a bad thing, as that is a physiological mechanism for helping us exert more energy at once . Chronically high blood pressure, however, is not healthy, as it can damage your vessels and eventually lead to organ failure. Common causes of high blood pressure include stress, inactivity, family history, chronic health conditions, excess alcohol consumption, being overweight, and a poor diet high in sodium, cholesterol, and fat.”6254a4d1642c605c54bf1cab17d50f1e
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How Do I Lower My Blood Pressure
The steps to lower your blood pressure aren’t as painful as you may be thinking. If you smoke, you’ll need to stop. Otherwise, lowering your blood pressure is as easy as the “more of this, less of that” approach you’re used to hearing about, including:
- Maintaining a healthy weight. If you’re overweight, a loss of as few as 10 pounds can lower your blood pressure.
- Consuming low levels of salt. Keep your salt intake under 1,500 mg/day.
- Getting plenty of exercise. Try to exercise for at least 90 minutes every week.
- Limiting alcohol. Keep your alcohol intake to one drink per day if you’re a woman, or two drinks per day if you’re a man.
- Eating healthy. Aim for a diet low in saturated and trans fats and rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
“Not only may young people be tempted to brush off their elevated or high blood pressure,” says Dr. Nasir, “but they are less likely to be diagnosed by doctors during their office visits. Apart from taking steps now to reduce risk factors down the road, its important to discuss with your doctor if your blood pressure is consistently high.”
When To Call The Doctor
If youâve had your blood pressure or cholesterol checked at the doctorâs office, your health care providers can help you to understand the results. Theyâll also consider the results in the context of any other potential risk factors you may have.
A cholesterol test may give you more than one number:
- Total cholesterol. A normal total cholesterol reading is less than 200 mg/dL.
- LDL cholesterol. A normal LDL cholesterol reading is less than 100 mg/dL.
- HDL cholesterol. Itâs good to have an HDL cholesterol of more than 60 mg/dL.
- Triglycerides. This is another type of fat in blood. Normal levels are less than 150 mg/dL.
If youâve tested cholesterol at a health fair or at home and you got a high reading or you arenât sure, call your doctor.
If youâre keeping tabs on your blood pressure at home, keep in mind that a normal blood pressure reading is less than 120/80 mm Hg. Call your doctor if you get a consistently high reading or you notice a change.
If your blood pressure suddenly exceeds 180/120 mm Hg, wait a few minutes and check again. Blood pressure thatâs this high can immediately damage organs and is a medical emergency. If this happens, call 911.
Many people have high blood pressure or cholesterol. But too many of them donât know they have it. By checking your numbers, youâll know if itâs time to take steps to help lower your risk of a more serious health problem.
Mayo Clinic: âCholesterol test kits: Are they accurate?â
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How Can I Prevent High Blood Pressure
You can help prevent high blood pressure by having a healthy lifestyle. This means:
If you already have high blood pressure, it is important to prevent it from getting worse or causing complications. You should get regular medical care and follow your prescribed treatment plan. Your plan will include healthy lifestyle habit recommendations and possibly medicines.
NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
How Does Blood Pressure Affect My Health
Even if you’re only in your 20s or 30s, long-term studies show that having elevated blood pressure significantly increases your risk of developing serious health conditions later in life.
“Uncontrolled high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease in middle age, which is the leading cause of death in the U.S.,” says Dr. Nasir. “It’s also a risk factor for stroke, kidney disease and several eye conditions.”
Plus, high blood pressure affects more than just your health there are financial implications, too. A person with high blood pressure spends almost $2,000 a year on the associated medications and health costs. These costs skyrocket if high blood pressure is left uncontrolled and serious medical conditions, such as heart disease, result.
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