How Do Doctors Diagnose High Blood Pressure
Because symptoms are so uncommon, the only way to know you have HBP is to have your blood pressure tested at your doctors office. Your doctor will use a device called a sphygmomanometer, which features an inflatable cuff that wraps around your upper arm. The cuff is attached to a scale, and when it inflates, it measures your systolic BP. It measures your diastolic BP as the cuff slowly deflates. Your doctor will also likely press a stethoscope to listen for any abnormal sounds as your blood flows.
You officially have HBPyour doctor may call it hypertensionwhen your readings are above normal during at least two visits to the doctor. However, many doctors will ask you to measure your own blood pressure using either a home monitor or with a 24-hour monitoring device your doctor lends you. Doing this will help confirm that your blood pressure remains high during the normal course of your day.
Why is this important? Many people have whats called white-coat hypertension, which means that your blood pressure spikes in your doctors office but returns to normal elsewhere. For example, your reading may be high when you have a physical and normal when you use the device at your pharmacist or grocery store .
Lets look at the numbers. The American Heart Association provides the measurements that you should aim for, as well as the ranges that put you in the danger zone. All measurements are mm Hg.
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How To Check Blood Pressure At Home
The first thing youll need is a sphygmomanometer which is an instrument used to measure blood pressure. You can buy one online or in most pharmacies for about $20 USD. This can be difficult. Because there are many different sizes and you may need one that fits snugly around your arm. But you can consult with your physician about the best available monitoring device near you.
If the person whose blood pressure needs checking doesnt have access to any of these, they can also take their own pulse. They should count the number of beats over 10 seconds and then multiply by six.
After selecting the right device, place the cuff on your arm and pump it up until it feels tight but not uncomfortable. Its important to make sure the cuff isnt too tight or too loose before taking an accurate reading. Now read aloud what numbers show up on the screen and write them down in your journal for future reference!
The reading may vary depending upon the different age groups. But the normal range of blood pressure for a healthy person is around 120/80 mm Hg. Anything above this is considered high blood pressure.
You Have A Strong Family History Of Hypertension
Genes do play some role in high blood pressure, which is why younger people in seemingly great health can still be diagnosed with hypertension, says Dr. Philips. However, more often than not, its also likely that people with a family history of high blood pressure share common environments that increase their riskand these are very much modifiable.
Our genes also interact with the environment and we can influence them by the choices we make, says Dr. Beniaminovitz. While lifestyle changes may not help you in never developing high blood pressure if you have a strong family history, optimal lifestyle will aid in delaying the onset of blood pressure and the need for early medications. Instead of developing high blood pressure in your 30s or 40s, with optimal diet and lifestyle you may delay the onset of high blood pressure to your late 60s or 70s.
BP fix: Keep up with the tips above!
Theres no magic bullet, but if you have a strong family history, thats even more reason to implement all of the dietary and lifestyle recommendations aboveeat whole foods, move your body more, manage stressand get your blood pressure checked regularly.
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Negative Effects Of Uncontrolled High Blood Pressure
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about one out of every three American adults have high blood pressure, or hypertension. Because high blood pressure is so common, it might be tempting to assume that its no big deal. But the truth is, that when left untreated, high blood pressure can put you at risk for potentially life-threatening complications.
Here are eight ways that uncontrolled high blood pressure can negatively affect your health:
How High Is Too High For Blood Pressure
Although the term labile hypertension means blood pressure that fluctuates more than usual, the term actually has no official definition. Theres no line that must be crossed no minimum blood pressure reading or number of spikes necessary to make the diagnosis.
The term simply indicates a situation where blood pressure is rising beyond whats considered normal and acceptable for an individual.
Most times, these people have reasonable blood pressure control, says Dr. Lioudis. Yet they have periods when they may experience facial flushing, tension headaches, sweating or feelings of unease. When they check their blood pressure, its high.
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Dehydration And Low Blood Pressure
Low blood pressure is when your blood pressure reading is lower than 90/60 mm Hg. Dehydration can cause low blood pressure due to a decrease in blood volume.
Blood volume is the amount of fluid thats circulating in your blood vessels. Maintaining a normal blood volume is necessary for blood to be able to adequately reach all of the tissues of your body.
When youre very dehydrated, your blood volume can decrease, leading to a drop in blood pressure.
When blood pressure drops too low, your organs wont receive the oxygen and nutrients they need. You could potentially go into shock.
Do More Exercise And Stop Worrying About Blood Pressure
Exercise at least three times per week for 30 minutes each time, it doesnt have to be an hour-long workout, just 10 minutes is enough. When you start exercising, your blood vessels become more flexible and capable of adjusting to changes in the environment. Exercise also helps regulate the release of hormones that affect blood pressure levels. A number of studies consistently demonstrate beneficial effects of exercise on hypertension with reductions in both systolic and diastolic
Get out of the house every day for a walk around the park. Try taking the stairs instead of the elevator or use a pedometer and aim for 10,000 steps each day
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Hot Flashes Can Predict Spikes In Blood Pressure
Of all the things that can happen to a womans body during menopause, theres nothing quite like a hot flash.
When I was young, my mother used to roll down the car window in the dead of winter and stick her head out the window. I never understood this, until I hit menopause myself.
If youve been experiencing hot flashes, and youve also been told by your doctor that your blood pressure is running on the high side, you may wonder if there is a connection between the two, or if the hot flashes are causing your high blood pressure numbers.
There is definitely an association between the two, but hot flashes dont cause a rise in blood pressure.
Lets understand just what the connection is.
Should I Talk To My Doctor About Sleep Apnea
If you have high blood pressure and are concerned about whether you might also have sleep apnea, speak with a doctor. Diagnosis is the first step to accessing effective treatments for OSA that may improve your sleep and blood pressure. Consider whether any of the following symptoms apply to you:
- Daytime sleepiness
- Difficulty with attention and memory
- Headaches in the morning
- Dry mouth when waking up
- Irritability, anxiety, or depression
Sleep apnea is often not recognized by the affected individual. In many cases, a bed partner notices nighttime symptoms of OSA, which prompts a visit to the doctor. If you share a bedroom or home with someone else, ask if they have noticed you exhibiting any of these signs while you are sleeping:
- Loud snoring
- Choking or gasping during sleep
- Pauses in breathing during sleep
Experiencing one or more of these symptoms does not necessarily mean you have sleep apnea, but it is a good reason to bring up sleep with your doctor.
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What If Just The First Blood Pressure Number Is High
For older people, often the first number is 130 or higher, but the second number is less than 80. This problem is called isolated systolic hypertension, which is due to age-related stiffening of the major arteries. It is the most common form of high blood pressure in older people and can lead to serious health problems in addition to shortness of breath during light physical activity, lightheadedness upon standing too fast, and falls. Isolated systolic hypertension is treated in the same way as regular high blood pressure but may require more than one type of blood pressure medication. If your doctor determines that your systolic pressure is above a normal level for your age, ask how you can lower it.
Youre Not Getting Enough Exercise
Sitting too much or leading a sedentary lifestyle can mess with just about every aspect of your health, and your cardiovascular health is no exception. Being sedentary leads to elevated blood pressure, both indirectly and directly, says Dr. Beniaminovitz. Sedentary people tend to be overweight or obese, and, as mentioned above, weight is one of the main driving causes of high blood pressure.
Additionally, getting regular aerobic activity helps you maintain a healthy blood pressure by making blood vessels more compliant and less sensitive to hormonal influences, he explainsso a lack of such activity may accelerate arterial hardening, forcing the heart and blood vessels to work that much harder.
BP fix: Get your heart pumpin .
A research analysis of nearly 400 studies suggests that regular exercise could be as effective as commonly prescribed blood pressure drugs. In the pantheon of physical activity, aerobic exercising is the best for blood pressure, says Dr. Beniaminovitz. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week such as biking, brisk walking, swimming, a barre class, or even higher-speed varieties of yoga like vinyasa.
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How Is High Blood Pressure Treated
Treating high blood pressure depends on the severity of your condition.
Your doctor will work with you to create a treatment plan that will help you manage your blood pressure.
At first, you may need to take medications to help lower your blood pressure.
For example, you can take a combination of beta-blockers and diuretics to reduce the amount of sodium and water in your kidneys. This helps your body get rid of extra sodium and water, which can slow the progression of high blood pressure.
Your doctor may also give you a diuretic or beta-blocker to help lower the number of blood vessels that are damaged. This helps your body get rid of extra fluid.
If your blood pressure doesnt respond to these treatments, you may need to take a blood pressure medication that can lower your blood pressure. These medications are called angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors.
Some people may need to take a combination of drugs to treat high blood pressure.
You Shouldn’t Ignore White Coat Hypertension
Some people experience white coat hypertension, when blood pressure is elevated in the doctor’s office but not in other settings. These patients need to monitor their blood pressure at home or wear an ambulatory blood pressure monitor that takes your blood pressure every 30 minutes for 24 hours.
While white coat hypertension was formerly considered simple nervousness, recent research suggests otherwise.
A study published in the journal Hypertension found that people with white coat hypertension are at a significantly greater risk for developing sustained high blood pressure than people who have normal blood pressure. One possible explanation is that people with white coat hypertension have a harder time managing stress and anxiety.
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Some High Blood Pressure Risks You Can’t Change
Anyone can get high blood pressure. But, some people have a greater chance of having it because of things they can’t change. These are:
- Age. The chance of having high blood pressure increases as you get older.
- Gender. Before age 55, men have a greater chance of having high blood pressure. Women are more likely to have high blood pressure after menopause.
- Family history. High blood pressure tends to run in some families.
- Race. African Americans are at increased risk for high blood pressure.
Secondary High Blood Pressure
Some cases of high blood pressure are the result of underlying factors or cause and this is known as secondary high blood pressure.
Underlying factors include:
- kidney conditions, such as a kidney infection, or kidney disease
- narrowing of the arteries
- hormonal conditions, such as Cushing’s syndrome
- conditions that affect the bodys tissue, such as lupus
- medication, such as the oral contraceptive pill, or the type of painkillers that are known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , such as ibuprofen
- recreational drugs, such as cocaine, amphetamines and crystal meth
Occasionally, a rise in blood pressure can result from taking herbal remedies, such as herbal supplements.
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What Causes Blood Pressure Spikes
Hypertension, also known as the silent killer disease, is the cause of at least 7.5 million deaths annually around the world according to the WHO, amounting to a total of about 13% of overall deaths.
The average normal blood pressure of an adult should be 120/80mm/Hg anything over and above that is considered as primary or essential hypertension that tends to develop gradually over the years. In some people, there can be an additional sudden spike in the blood pressure and this is known as secondary hypertension. This additional higher pressure puts extra strain on the heart and blood vessels, making the heart work harder to pump as well as contributing to arthrosclerosis or hardening of the arteries, stroke, heart failure and kidney disease.
Secondary hypertension usually occurs due to some underlying conditions in hypertensive people it appears suddenly, causing higher pressure spikes than primary hypertension. Various factors have been implicated in this condition and could include among others, include the following:
Obesity Excess weight translates to larger volumes of circulating blood with associated greater pressure on the arterial walls and an increase in heart rate as the blood vessels struggle to carry the extra blood. This results in hypertension.Thyroid problems This occurs when the body produces too much or too little of thyroid hormones resulting in high blood pressure.
Causes Of Sudden High Blood Pressure
Spikes of high blood pressure are always a concern. A client of mine asked me about them because he was getting some himself. While he knew the cause of his, he wanted to know all of them. Therefore, what are causes of sudden high blood pressure?
Causes of sudden high blood pressure include the following:
- Chronic Kidney Disease
- Pregnancy Related High Blood Pressure
- Illegal drugs
This article will explain in detail each one of the causes. Knowing what causes sudden high blood pressure is a must know for anyone, especially for those struggling with blood pressure already .
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Drink Alcohol In Moderation
Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol will increase your blood pressure and raise the cholesterol levels in your blood.
Sticking to the recommended amounts of alcohol consumption is the best way to reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure.
The recommended daily limits of alcohol consumption are:
- 3 to 4 units of alcohol for men
- 2 to 3 units of alcohol for women.
A unit of alcohol is equal to about half a pint of normal-strength lager, a small glass of wine or a pub measure or spirits.
More about drinking alcohol reponsibly
Stiffening Of The Arteries
Some physicians consider the most authentic form of pseudo-resistant hypertension to be caused by stiffened brachial arteries that prevent the blood pressure cuff from obtaining a true reading. If your doctor suspects this form of pseudo-resistant hypertension, they might consider other ways to measure your blood pressure.
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What A Sudden Drop In Blood Pressure Means
Sudden drops in blood pressure can occur for any number of reasons, some of which may be incidental and of no real concern, while others may the sign of a potentially life-threatening condition.
Sudden drops in blood pressure are often recognized by symptoms ranging from mild lightheadedness and fatigue to severe heart rhythm problems and respiratory distress.
Although low blood pressure is easily diagnosed with a blood pressure cuff , the underlying cause of sudden, severe drops may require extensive investigation, including a physical exam, lab tests, cardiac monitoring, and imaging studies.