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How To Tell High Blood Pressure

Fatigue Or Lingering Tiredness

How do you know if you have High Blood Pressure?

Since high BP increases the amount of work that your heart needs, it makes your heart grow bigger to handle the work and will demand more oxygen-rich blood. As a result, you feel weak, there will be lingering tiredness or fatigue, and you will not be able to perform physical activities or exercise. It may lead to heart failure if left untreated.

Heart Attack And Heart Disease

High blood pressure can damage your arteries by making them less elastic, which decreases the flow of blood and oxygen to your heart and leads to heart disease. In addition, decreased blood flow to the heart can cause:

  • Chest pain, also called angina.
  • Heart attack, which happens when the blood supply to your heart is blocked and heart muscle begins to die without enough oxygen. The longer the blood flow is blocked, the greater the damage to the heart.
  • Heart failure, a condition that means your heart cant pump enough blood and oxygen to your other organs.

Treating High Blood Pressure With Lifestyle Changes

Your doctor may suggest that you make one or more of the following changes:

  • Lose weight. If you’re overweight, losing extra kilograms may bring your blood pressure down.
  • Get more active. Regular aerobic exercise can help lower blood pressure.
  • Stop smoking. Smoking increases your risk for heart attack and stroke.
  • 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.
  • Eat less sodium. To help lower blood pressure, try to eat less than 2,000 mg a day.footnote 3
  • Follow theDASH diet. The DASH eating plan can help you lower your blood pressure.

For tips on how to do these things, see the Living With High Blood Pressure section of this topic.

One Woman’s Story:

Izzy, 60

“I could never have imagined I could get down so low by losing weight. I feel sure it was the WAY I lost weight, with DASH.” Izzy

Read more about Izzy and how she uses the DASH eating plan.

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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.

When Treatment Is Recommended

What Is High Blood Pressure?

Everyone with high blood pressure is advised to make healthy lifestyle changes.

Whether medicine is also recommended depends on your blood pressure reading and your risk of developing problems such as heart attacks or strokes.

Your doctor will carry out some blood and urine tests, and ask questions about your health to determine your risk of other problems:

  • if your blood pressure is consistently above 140/90mmHg , but your risk of other problems is low you’ll be advised to make some changes to your lifestyle
  • if your blood pressure is consistently above 140/90mmHg and your risk of other problems is high you’ll be offered medicine to lower your blood pressure, in addition to lifestyle changes
  • if your blood pressure is consistently above 160/100mmHg you’ll be offered medicine to lower your blood pressure, in addition to lifestyle changes

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How To Check Your Blood Pressure Manually

To manually take your blood pressure, youll need a blood pressure cuff with a squeezable balloon and an aneroid monitor, also known as a sphygmomanometer, and a stethoscope. An aneroid monitor is a number dial. If possible, enlist the help of a friend or family member, because it can be difficult to use this method on your own.

Here are the steps to taking your blood pressure at home:

  • Before taking your blood pressure, make sure youre relaxed. Position your arm straight, palm facing up on a level surface, such as a table. Youll place the cuff on your bicep and squeeze the balloon to inflate the cuff. Using the numbers on the aneroid monitor, inflate the cuff about 20-30 mm Hg over your normal blood pressure. If you dont know your normal blood pressure, ask your doctor how much you should inflate the cuff.
  • Once the cuff is inflated, place the stethoscope with the flat side down on the inside of your elbow crease, toward the inner part of your arm where the major artery of your arm is located. Be sure to test the stethoscope before using it to make sure you can hear properly. You can do that by tapping on the stethoscope. Its also helpful to have a high-quality stethoscope and to ensure that the ears of the stethoscope are pointed in toward your eardrums.
  • Signs Of High Or Low Blood Pressure

    Low blood pressure numbers could mean that essential parts of your body like the brain and heart arent receiving enough blood. Some people can have low numbers without it causing them any issues. Others experience symptoms that may show a link between their hypotension and other health problems.

    Some common signs of low blood pressure include:

    • Heart problems

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    Apps To Track Blood Pressure

    Although there are apps that promise to check your blood pressure without using equipment, this isnt an accurate or reliable method.

    However, there are apps available that can help you track your blood pressure results. This can be helpful in identifying patterns in your blood pressure. Your doctor may use this information to determine if you require blood pressure medications.

    Some examples of free blood pressure-monitoring apps include:

    • Blood Pressure Monitor Family Litefor iPhone. You can enter your blood pressure, weight, and height, as well as track the medications you take.
    • Blood Pressure for Android. This app tracks your blood pressure and features several statistical and graphical analysis tools.
    • Blood Pressure Companion for iPhone. This app allows you to track your blood pressure as well as view graphs and trends on your blood pressure readings across several days or weeks.

    These apps can help you quickly and easily track your blood pressure readings. Measuring your blood pressure regularly on the same arm can help you most accurately track your blood pressure readings.

    High Blood Pressure Chart

    How to know if you have high blood pressure

    The chart below shows measures for normal and high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association .

    Doctors measure blood pressure in millimeters of mercury .

    Systolic pressure measures the pressure in the arteries as the heart contracts and is the top number on a blood pressure reading. Diastolic, which is the lower number, represents the blood pressure when the heart is resting between beats.

    Systolic
    • congenital conditions, such as Cushings syndrome, acromegaly, or pheochromocytoma

    Sometimes, there is no apparent cause. In this case, a doctor will diagnose primary hypertension.

    Consuming a high fat diet, carrying excess weight, drinking a lot of alcohol, smoking tobacco, and the use of some medications also increase the risk.

    Treatment will depend on several factors, including:

    • how high the blood pressure is
    • the risk of cardiovascular disease or a stroke

    The doctor will recommend different treatments as blood pressure increases. For slightly high blood pressure, they may suggest making lifestyle changes and monitoring the blood pressure.

    If blood pressure is high, they will recommend medication. The options may change over time, according to how severe the hypertension is and whether complications arise, such as kidney disease. Some people may need a combination of several different medications.

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    Genetic Influences On High Blood Pressure

    What causes high blood pressure can be a complex affair. Many things such as aspects of our diets, our activity levels, our stress levels, our age, our weight, can have an effect. And even in one individual, high blood pressure can be caused by a complex combination of factors.

    Nonetheless, as many of us have noticed, high blood pressure does sometimes run in families. Until fairly recently, the specifics of this have been poorly understood. However, scientists now pinning down more and more of the genes responsible for hereditary high blood pressure.

    Developing A Healthy Diet

    A heart-healthy diet is vital for helping to reduce high blood pressure. Its also important for managing hypertension that is under control and reducing the risk of complications. These complications include heart disease, stroke, and heart attack.

    A heart-healthy diet emphasizes foods that include:

    • fruits
    • lean proteins like fish

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    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.

    What Do The Readings Mean

    How to tell if you have high blood pressure # ...

    As a general guide:

    140/90mmHg or over you may have high blood pressureMost doctors use 140/90mmHg as the cut off for point for diagnosing . This is the point where your risk of serious health problems goes up. They might prescribe and advise you to make changes to your to bring your blood pressure down. 120/80mmHg up to 140/90mmHg pre-high blood pressureAlso called high-normal blood pressure. This is not high blood pressure, but it is a little higher than it should be and means you could go on to develop high blood pressure. See how you can make to lower it. 90/60mmHg up to 120/80mmHg ideal blood pressureAlso called normal blood pressure. Your blood pressure reading is healthy. At this level you have a much lower risk of heart disease and stroke. Following a will help you to keep it in the healthy range. 90/60mmHg or lower you may have low blood pressure usually isnt a problem, but it can sometimes make you feel faint or dizzy or could be a sign of another health problem.

    The video below explains how your blood pressure numbers are linked to the risk of stroke and other disease.

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    What Are Uncontrollable Risk Factors

    • Race – African Americans develop high blood pressure more often than whites, and it tends to occur earlier and be more severe.
    • Heredity – A tendency to have high blood pressure runs in families. If your parents or other close blood relatives have it, youre more likely to develop it.
    • Age – In general, the older you get, the greater your chance of developing high blood pressure. It occurs most often in people over age 35. Men seem to develop it most often between age 35 and 50. Women are more likely to develop it after menopause.

    *BMI is used to define nutritional status and is derived from the following formula: BMI = 703 x Body Weight divided by The standards are the same for men and women. A BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight.

    Looking For A List Of Symptoms

    If you are looking for a list of symptoms and signs of high blood pressure , you wont find them here. This is because most of the time, there are none.

    Myth: People with high blood pressure will experience symptoms, like nervousness, sweating, difficulty sleeping or facial flushing.

    Truth: High blood pressure is a largely symptomless silent killer. If you ignore your blood pressure because you think a certain symptom or sign will alert you to the problem, you are taking a dangerous chance with your life.

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    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.

    Maintain A Healthy Weight

    How To TELL Your High Blood Pressure to go Down

    Being overweight is a risk factor for having high blood pressure, and your risk increases further if you are obese.

    There are two ways to check if you are overweight:

    • Body Mass Index – This is your weight in kilograms divided by your height in metres squared. In the UK, people with a BMI of between 25 to 30 are overweight, and those with an index above 30 are classed as obese. People with a BMI of 40 or more are morbidly obese.
    • Waist size – Using a measuring tape place the tape round your waist between the bottom of your ribs and the top of your hip bone. The table below indicates how much your health might be at risk, your ethnicity should also be taken into account.
    Sex
    Over 80 cm

    The best way to tackle obesity is by reducing the amount of calories that you eat, and taking regular exercise. Your GP can provide you with further information and advice on how you can do this.

    More about having a healthy weight

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    The Blood Pressure Chart

    Once you know your numbers, you can use the blood pressure chart to see what they mean and if your blood pressure is in the healthy range. The chart is suitable for adults of any age, as the cut-off point for diagnosing high blood pressure doesnt change with age.

    How to use the blood pressure chart

    Simply find your top number on the left side of the chart and your bottom number on the bottom. Where the two lines meet is your blood pressure.

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    What Are The Possible Complications Of High Blood Pressure

    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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    Who Needs To Get Their Blood Pressure Checked

    Every adult should have your blood pressure checked regularly. The age you are advised to start having heart and diabetes checks depends on your age, ethnicity and other risk factors.

    Risk factors Age to start having heart and diabetes checks

    If you have no known risk factors

    Men: 45 years

    If you are Mori, Pasifika or South Asian1

    Men: 30 years

    If you have the following risk factors:

    • you smoke
    • you have a family history of diabetes, high cholesterol, heart attack or stroke2
    • you have gestational diabetes or prediabetes
    • you are overweight3
    • you have high blood pressure or cholesterol
    • you have previously had a heart trouble or stroke
    • you have a heart condition such as atrial fibrillation.
    Men: 35 years

    If you have diabetes

    As part of your yearly diabetes review

    If you have schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder or other severe mental illness

    25 years
  • South-Asian peoples: Indian, including Fijian Indian, Sri Lankan, Afghani, Bangladeshi, Nepalese, Pakistani, Tibetan
  • Family history: Parent, brother or sister
  • Overweight: BMI 30 or weight around your tummy
  • Read more about heart risk assessment.

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