How Blood Pressure Is Measured
Blood pressure testing stations can be found in pharmacies, workplaces, and medical clinics. You can also buy a blood pressure monitor online or at your local pharmacy.
To measure blood pressure, a cuff attached to a monitor is placed on your arm. The cuff is then inflated with an air pump until its pressure stops blood flow from your brachial arterythe major artery found in your upper arm.
As the cuff deflates, the device measures the pressure when blood starts flowing again . Once the cuff is completely deflated, the device gauges the lowest pressure between beats .
Typically, more attention is given to the systolic pressure reading, as systolic blood pressure is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease in people over the age of 50. Still, both readings are used to make a diagnosis.
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.
Schedule An Appointment With Your Doctor
In some cases, electronic blood pressure monitor readings might not seem accurate because there is indeed something wrong with you that you don’t know about. If you suspect this might be the case, it’s essential to see your doctor just in case! It could very well save your life and make sure that nothing terrible happens down the road.
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What Causes High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure usually develops over time. It can happen because of unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as not getting enough regular physical activity. Certain health conditions, such as diabetes and having obesity, can also increase the risk for developing high blood pressure. High blood pressure can also happen during pregnancy.
You can manage your blood pressure to lower your risk for serious health problems that may affect your heart, brain, kidneys, and eyes.
How Is It Diagnosed
Because it is such a common problem, blood pressure is checked at most healthcare visits. High blood pressure is usually discovered during one of these visits. If your blood pressure is high, you will be asked to return for follow-up checks. If repeated checks of your blood pressure show that it is higher than 140/90, you have hypertension.
Your healthcare provider will ask about your life situation, what you eat and drink, and if high blood pressure runs in your family. You may have urine and blood tests. Your provider may order a chest X-ray and an electrocardiogram . You may be asked to use a portable blood-pressure measuring device, which will take your pressure at different times during day and night. All of this testing is done to look for a possible cause of your high blood pressure.
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How To Manage High Blood Pressure At Home In Emergency
Before attempting first aid for high blood pressure at home, please note, that the tips to lower down your blood pressure in this post arent meant to replace specialist consultation and hospital visit in any circumstances. Please visit your nearest hospital whenever possible in case of hypertension as it may have serious outcomes.
Also remember, that some ways to bring blood pressure down immediately can be harmful to our body including brain. They can also develop hypotension . Thats why never attempt any remedies or techniques without consultation with your doctor.
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When High Blood Pressure Is Too High
Rick Lasica, PharmD Post-Graduate Year 1 Resident
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, affects nearly 1 in every 3 adults in the United States. Hypertension is often referred to as the silent killer, because for the most part, hypertension doesnt have any warning signs or symptoms. You might not even know you have it. If left untreated, hypertension increases your risk for heart disease and stroke, two of the leading causes of death in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . So when is high blood pressure too high?
Blood Pressure by the Numbers
Blood pressure is reported as two numbers: systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure . Systolic pressure is the pressure of your blood against the walls of your heart when it beats, while diastolic pressure is when it rests . Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80 and pre-hypertension is between 120-139 for the top number and 80-89 for the bottom number. A consistent blood pressure reading of 140/90 or greater means you have hypertension.
Preventing and Treating Hypertension
Common High Blood Pressure Medications
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Can High Blood Pressure Affect Pregnancy
High blood pressure complicates about 10% of all pregnancies. There are several different types of high blood pressure during pregnancy and range from mild to serious. The forms of high blood pressure during pregnancy include:
Chronic hypertension: High blood pressure which is present prior to pregnancy.
Chronic hypertension with superimposed preeclampsia: Preeclampsia, which develops in someone who has chronic hypertension .
Gestational hypertension: High blood pressure in the latter part of pregnancy, but no other signs or symptoms of preeclampsia are present. Some women will later develop preeclampsia, while others probably have high blood pressure before the pregnancy.
Preeclampsia: This is found in the latter half of pregnancy and results in hypertension, protein in the urine and generalized swelling in the mother. It can affect other organs in the body and cause seizures .
Your blood pressure will be checked regularly during prenatal appointments, but if you have concerns about your blood pressure, be sure to talk with your provider.
Can High Blood Pressure Be Prevented Or Avoided
If your high blood pressure is caused by lifestyle factors, you can take steps to reduce your risk:
- Lose weight.
- Reduce your alcohol consumption.
- Learn relaxation methods.
If your high blood pressure is caused by disease or the medicine you take, talk to your doctor. He or she may be able to prescribe a different medicine. Additionally, treating any underlying disease can help reduce your high blood pressure.
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Is Your Blood Pressure Too High
A new study found that awareness, control, and treatment of high blood pressure has dropped among U.S. adults.
Nearly half of adults live with high blood pressure, also called hypertension. Its defined as a blood pressure reading of 130/80 mm Hg or higher, or by taking medication for the condition. High blood pressure increases your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
Many people dont know they have the condition. Symptoms usually appear only after damage to your heart and blood vessels. By identifying high blood pressure early, you can work with your doctor to control it.
Researchers examined how many people with high blood pressure knew they had it and how many were receiving treatment. They looked at data from a large national health survey on high blood pressure.
More than 50,000 adults were surveyed from 1999 to 2018. Researchers found that high blood pressure affected 30% of adults in 1999 and 32% in 2017.
Twenty years ago, about 70% of adults with high blood pressure were aware they had the condition. This increased to almost 85% in 2013. But by 2017, awareness dropped to 77%.
Treatment declined, too. Almost 54% of those with hypertension had their blood pressure under control in 2013. By 2017, that had dropped to 44%.
The reversal in hypertension awareness is a real setback in the fight to reduce heart disease and stroke, says study author Dr. Paul Muntner from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
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.
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Adopting A Cleaner Lifestyle
If youre a smoker, try to quit. The chemicals in tobacco smoke damage the bodys tissues and harden blood vessel walls.
If you regularly consume too much alcohol or have an alcohol dependency, seek help to reduce the amount you drink or stop altogether. Alcohol can raise blood pressure.
One of the easiest ways you can treat hypertension and prevent possible complications is through your diet. What you eat can go a long way toward easing or eliminating hypertension.
Here are some of the most common dietary recommendations for people with hypertension.
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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Can You Help Control Your Blood Pressure
Yes, you can help. There are three things you can do: have a more active lifestyle, make healthy food choices, and, if needed, take your medicine every day as it is prescribed. With prehypertension, some people can bring blood pressure down to normal through weight loss, exercise and other changes for a healthy lifestyle. Medications are used to control high blood pressure. Medicines may be recommended for some people with prehypertension who also have other diseases, such as diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease and coronary artery disease.
If you have slightly high blood pressure, your doctor may suggest these steps:
- lose weight if you are overweight,
- get regular physical activity,
- cut down on alcohol, and
- change your food choices to those with less salt and fat
A special eating plan called DASH can help you lower your blood pressure. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH eating plan emphasizes fruits, vegetables, fatfree or lowfat milk and milk products, wholegrain products, fish, poultry, beans, seeds, and nuts. The DASH eating plan also contains less salt/sodium, sweets, added sugars, sugar containing beverages, fats, and red meats than the typical American diet.
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Signs Of High Blood Pressure
Many adults have high blood pressure, but they arent aware of it. Thats why medical experts call hypertension a silent condition. The only way to know for sure if you have high blood pressure is to measure it regularly. You can do this at home or during a visit to your doctors office.
Although not directly caused by hypertension, there are a few symptoms that can indirectly result from high blood pressure numbers. These include:
Blood spots in the eyes
Having red spots in your eyes is most commonly seen in individuals with high blood pressure or diabetes. Diabetes and high blood pressure do not cause blood spots, however. An ophthalmologist can best determine if untreated hypertension is causing optic nerve damage, leading to blood spots in the eyes.
Lots of internal and external factors can cause facial flushing, like eating spicy foods, drinking hot drinks, wind, stress, hormone fluctuation, and skincare products. Your face can flush when you have higher than normal blood pressure, but hypertension isnt causing facial flushing.
Early warning signs of a stroke include sudden onset of dizziness, loss of balance, and trouble walking. High blood pressure is the top risk factor for stroke, so its possible for high blood pressure and dizziness to be related. Dizziness is also a common side effect of some blood pressure medications.
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Upmc Central Pa Portal
UPMC Central Pa. Portal provides patients across the central Pennsylvania region with secure access to their health information. It is the fastest way to send a message to your doctor, refill prescriptions, get test results, and schedule and manage appointments, including video visits.
What If Lifestyle Changes Dont Help Lower My Blood Pressure
If diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes dont work to lower your blood pressure, your healthcare provider prescribe hypertension medications. Your provider will take into account these drugs effect on other conditions you may have, such as heart or kidney disease, and other drugs youre taking.
You might need to take hypertension medicine from now on. Be sure to follow your providers dosing directions exactly.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/20/2020.
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When To See A Doctor
The symptoms of high blood pressure are typically silent. Many people may not find out they have high blood pressure until they visit their doctor for a routine physical. If you dont already have a primary care doctor, the Healthline FindCare tool can help you find a physician in your area.
There are many home blood pressure monitors available so that you can monitor your blood pressure at home. Some people that should consider doing this include:
- those with a family history of high blood pressure
- people who are overweight or obese
- women who are pregnant
You should always keep a log of your readings. Its important to note that home blood pressure monitoring isnt a substitute for a doctors visit. If you find that your readings are consistently high, you should make an appointment with your doctor to discuss them.
Blood Pressure Checks During Pregnancy
If you are pregnant, you should have your blood pressure checked on a regular basis, even if it is not high.
Watching your blood pressure while you are pregnant reduces your risk of developing pregnancy-induced hypertension. This can lead to a serious condition called pre-eclampsia where there is a problem with the placenta .
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What You Should Know About Fluctuating Blood Pressure In The Elderly
As you help monitor your loved ones blood pressure, keep in mind that numbers fluctuate slightly throughout the day thats normal. Several factors influence your blood pressure numbers. For example, your blood pressure may be lower if youre resting and higher if youre stressed. This means you may have a normal reading in the morning and an elevated number in the afternoon.
If youre concerned about excessive fluctuation in your loved ones blood pressure numbers:
- Read instructions to ensure youre using your home blood pressure monitor equipment correctly. Variations in how you measure your loved ones blood pressure can result in different readings.
- Bring your home monitor to your next doctors appointment to compare readings.
- Be aware of white coat hypertension. In some cases, a persons blood pressure may be high at a doctors office but normal at home. This could be attributed to the stress related to a doctors appointment.
Your loved ones doctor may want you to keep a blood pressure diary with several readings a day for a couple of weeks to monitor any variations.
High Blood Pressure Chart
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.
- 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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Risks Of High Blood Pressure
If your blood pressure is too high, it puts extra strain on your blood vessels, heart and other organs, such as the brain, kidneys and eyes.
Persistent high blood pressure can increase your risk of a number of serious and potentially life-threatening health conditions, such as:
- have a relative with high blood pressure
- are of black African or black Caribbean descent
- live in a deprived area
Making healthy lifestyle changes can sometimes help reduce your chances of getting high blood pressure and help lower your blood pressure if it’s already high.
Control Your Environment While Testing
As we mentioned above, your mood can have an impact on your electronic blood pressure monitor reading. If you feel stressed or anxious, it might be a good idea to try and calm yourself down before testing your electronic bp monitor for accuracy!
On the other hand, if you get an extremely low electronic blood pressure machine reading when relaxed and happy, there’s no need to worry. Your body will naturally regulate your blood pressure on its own.
In addition to watching your mood, try to stay hydrated and well-fed before doing blood pressure readings. This will help ensure that you get the most accurate electronic bp monitor reading possible.
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