This Is High Blood Pressure
When your heart beats, it pumps blood around your body to give it the energy and oxygen it needs. As the blood moves, it pushes against the sides of the blood vessels. The strength of this pushing is your blood pressure. If your blood pressure is too high, it puts extra strain on your heart and blood vessels. This is called high blood pressure, or hypertension. Over time it can lead to a number of health problems including heart attacks, stroke, kidney disease and some forms of dementia. The good news is there are lots of things you can do to .
High blood pressure is very common, about a third of adults in the UK have it, but many arent aware of it. It doesnt usually have any symptoms so the only way to know you have it is to have a .
How To Understand High Blood Pressure Readings
Two numbers create a blood pressure reading. Systolic pressure indicates the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats and pumps out blood. Diastolic pressure is the reading of the pressure in your arteries between beats of your heart.
Five categories define blood pressure readings for adults:
- Healthy: A healthy blood pressure reading is less than 120/80 millimeters of mercury .
- Elevated: The systolic number is between 120 and 129 mm Hg, and the diastolic number is less than 80 mm Hg. Doctors usually dont treat elevated blood pressure with medication. Instead, your doctor may encourage lifestyle changes to help lower your numbers.
- Stage 1 hypertension: The systolic number is between 130 and 139 mm Hg, or the diastolic number is between 80 and 89 mm Hg.
- Stage 2 hypertension: The systolic number is 140 mm Hg or higher, or the diastolic number is 90 mm Hg or higher.
- Hypertensive crisis: The systolic number is over 180 mm Hg, or the diastolic number is over 120 mm Hg. Blood pressure in this range requires urgent medical attention. If any symptoms like chest pain, headache, shortness of breath, or visual changes occur when blood pressure is this high, medical care in the emergency room is needed.
A blood pressure reading is taken with a pressure cuff. For an accurate reading, its important you have a cuff that fits. An ill-fitting cuff may deliver inaccurate readings.
Do I Have High Blood Pressure
Anyone can have high blood pressure. Some medical conditions, such as metabolic syndrome, kidney disease, and thyroid problems, can cause high blood pressure. 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, especially isolated systolic hypertension.
- 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.
High blood pressure often has no signs or symptoms, but routine checks of your blood pressure will help detect increasing levels. If your blood pressure reading is high at two or more check-ups, the doctor may also ask you to measure your blood pressure at home.
There are important considerations for older adults in deciding whether to start treatment for high blood pressure if it is above 130/80, including other health conditions and overall fitness. Your doctor may work with you to find a blood pressure target that is best for your well-being and may suggest exercise, changes in your diet, and 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.
Try These Medicinal Herbs
Herbal medicines have long been used in many cultures to treat a variety of ailments.
Some herbs have even been shown to possibly lower blood pressure. However, more research is needed to identify the doses and components in the herbs that are most useful.
Always check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking herbal supplements. They may interfere with your prescription medications.
Heres a partial list of plants and herbs that are used by cultures throughout the world to lower blood pressure:
- black bean
- river lily
- Avoid daytime naps.
- Make your bedroom comfortable.
The 2010 national Sleep Heart Health Study found that regularly sleeping fewer than 7 hours a night and more than 9 hours a night was associated with an increased rate of high blood pressure.
Regularly sleeping fewer than 5 hours a night was linked to a significant risk of high blood pressure long term .
Get To Know Your Numbers
Because there arent any symptoms, its important to have your blood pressure checked regularly. Get to know the numbers and when to get help from your doctor.
Your blood pressure will have two numbers:
- Systolic is the upper number, measuring when your heart is forcing blood through your vessels.
- Diastolic is the lower number, measuring pressure between heart beats.
For example, 120/80 indicates a systolic blood pressure of 120 and a diastolic blood pressure of 80 mm/Hg.
Blood Pressure And Ageing
With advancing years, the arteries tend to become more rigid . This may change a persons blood pressure pattern, with a higher systolic pressure and a lower diastolic pressure. The higher systolic pressure is important because it can further accelerate the rigidity of the arteries. This state is referred to as isolated systolic hypertension. Although these changes are due to ageing, this is not a normal state and may need medication to control the systolic pressures.
Home Blood Pressure Monitoring
Some people buy their own blood pressure monitor to use at home. This means you can measure your blood pressure on an ongoing basis.
The blood pressure readings you do at home are as good as those done by your doctor.
If you decide to buy one, it’s important to get the correct cuff size. If the cuff is too big or too small, it can give an inaccurate reading.
If you take your own blood pressure and get an unusually high reading, take it a second time after at least five minutes. If it’s still high and you’re worried, contact your nurse or GP.
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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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.
Reduce Stress Through Meditation And Rest
Chronic stress can lead to chronic elevations in the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, says Dr. Desai. These hormones constrict the arteries and cause weight gain, which further increases blood pressure.
He recommends reducing stress by using breathing exercises, practicing meditation, completing physical exercise, practicing yoga, logging quality sleep, taking breaks throughout the day, spending time in nature, listening to music and eating a balanced diet.
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What Can I Do To Prevent Or Manage High Blood Pressure
Many people with high blood pressure can lower their blood pressure into a healthy range or keep their numbers in a healthy range by making lifestyle changes. Talk with your health care team about
- Getting at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week
- Not smoking
- Managing stress
In addition to making positive lifestyle changes, some people with high blood pressure need to take medicine to manage their blood pressure. Learn more about medicines for high blood pressure.
Talk with your health care team right away if you think you have high blood pressure or if youve been told you have high blood pressure but do not have it under control.
What Can I Expect If I Have This Condition
Since high blood pressure doesnt cause many symptoms at first, you probably wont feel any different with a high blood pressure diagnosis. But its important to follow your providers instructions to bring your blood pressure down so it doesnt cause serious illnesses later in life.
How long does high blood pressure last?
If you have primary high blood pressure, youll need to control it for the rest of your life.
If you have secondary high blood pressure, your blood pressure will most likely come down after you receive treatment for the medical problem that caused it. If a medication caused your high blood pressure, switching to a different medicine may lower your blood pressure.
What is the outlook for high blood pressure?
You can get seriously ill if you dont treat your high blood pressure. However, if you take the medicines your provider ordered, you can control your blood pressure. Exercising and eating healthy foods also helps lower your blood pressure.
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General Tips To Lower Blood Pressure
There are also many things you can try that may lower your blood pressure over the long term.
Being overweight makes you more at risk for high blood pressure. Additionally, it makes you more likely to have sleep apnea, which can raise your blood pressure. Losing weight can consequently help to reduce your blood pressure.
Specifically, reducing your waistline circumference can help. Men with a waistline larger than 40 inches and women with a waistline larger than 35 inches typically have a higher risk for high blood pressure.
Typical methods to follow for losing weight, like eating healthy and exercising more, also help to lower your blood pressure. Exercising for about 30 minutes each day and eating a diet with plenty of whole grains and vegetables may contribute to lowering your blood pressure.
Follow a low-sodium diet
Sodium can contribute to high blood pressure. People with high blood pressure may want to aim to eat 1500mg of salt per day.
To limit your salt intake:
- Read food labels to understand how much salt is in each product.
- Use herbs and spices to season your food instead of salt.
- Reduce your intake of processed foods.
Every time you smoke a cigarette, your blood pressure goes up for a few minutes. Quitting smoking can lower your overall blood pressure and improve your health in general. Doing so reduces your risk of heart disease and may prolong your life compared to people who do not quit smoking.
Reduce your stress
Keep Your Blood Pressure Under Control
The higher your blood pressure, the higher your risk of health problems, and lowering it is one of the best things you can do for your health. Even a small change can make a big difference lowering the top number by 10mmHg lowers the risk of a heart attack or stroke by 20%.
Some people have blood pressure below the healthy range. This is known as , but is normally nothing to worry about. The video below shows how to keep a healthy blood pressure.
You can start taking steps today to lower your blood pressure and keep it in check. Read more about the changes you can make to your , and the that are available if you need them.
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What Are The Other Ways To Lower Blood Pressure
Lifestyle changes are effective in controlling high blood pressure. A healthy lifestyle can avoid, delay, or reduce the need for blood pressure medications.
Here are some lifestyle changes that may help to lower blood pressure:
Daily exercises: Daily exercise is an excellent way to lose fat and reduce high blood pressure. Exercising daily for 30 minutes can bring down the blood pressure by about 5-8 mmHg.
Reduce sodium intake: Most Americans consume about 3,400 mg of sodium a day, whereas the recommended daily intake of sodium is 2,300 mg with an optimal limit of less than 1,500 mg for those with high blood pressure.
Eat healthily: Avoid foods that contain a high amount of sodium, saturated fats, and cholesterol. This approach to stop hypertension by dietary control is known as the dietary approach to stop hypertension .
Increase potassium intake: Add more potassium to the diet because it regulates the heart rate and nullifies the effect of sodium in the body. Potassium-rich foods include:
- Fruits such as bananas, melons, avocadoes, and apricots
- Green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale
- Vegetables such as potatoes and sweet potatoes
- Tuna and salmon
- Nuts and seeds
Abstain from heavy alcohol drinking: Alcohol in moderation does not do much harm to the body. Do not exceed one drink a day. Avoid binge drinking.
What Is Normal Blood Pressure
A blood pressure reading is written like this: 120/80. It’s read as “120 over 80.” The top number is called the systolic, and bottom number is called the diastolic. The ranges are:
- Normal: Less than 120 over 80
- Elevated: 120-129/less than 80
- Stage 1 high blood pressure: 130-139/80-89
- Stage 2 high blood pressure: 140 and above/90 and above
- Hypertension crisis: higher than 180/higher than 120 — See a doctor right away
If your blood pressure is above the normal range, talk to your doctor about how to lower it.
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Stroke And Brain Problems
High blood pressure can cause the arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the brain to burst or be blocked, causing a stroke. Brain cells die during a stroke because they do not get enough oxygen. Stroke can cause serious disabilities in speech, movement, and other basic activities. A stroke can also kill you.
Having high blood pressure, especially in midlife, is linked to having poorer cognitive function and dementia later in life. Learn more about the link between high blood pressure and dementia from the National Institutes of Healths Mind Your Risks®external icon campaign.
About High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is usually defined as having a sustained blood pressure of 140/90mmHg or above.
The line between normal and raised blood pressure is not fixed and depends on your individual circumstances. However, most doctors agree that the ideal blood pressure for a physically healthy person is around 120/80mmHg.
A normal blood pressure reading is classed as less than 130/80mmHg.
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Consider Cutting Back On Caffeine
Caffeine raises your blood pressure, but the effect is temporary.
In a 2017 study, the systolic blood pressure of 18 participants was elevated for 2 hours after they drank 32 ounces of either a caffeinated drink or an energy drink. Blood pressure then dropped more quickly for the participants who drank a caffeinated drink .
Some people may be more sensitive to caffeine than others. If youre caffeine-sensitive, you may want to cut back on your coffee consumption, or try .
Research on caffeine, including its health benefits, is in the news a lot. The choice of whether to cut back depends on many individual factors.
One older study indicated that caffeines effect on raising blood pressure is greater if your blood pressure is already high. This same study, however, called for more research on the subject .
If your blood pressure is very high or doesnt decrease after making these lifestyle changes, your doctor may recommend prescription drugs.
They work and will improve your long-term outcome, especially if you have other risk factors . However, it can take some time to find the right combination of medications.
Talk with your doctor about possible medications and what might work best for you.