Getting To Know Systolic And Diastolic Blood Pressure
Systolic pressure, or the upper number in your blood pressure measurement, indicates the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats or during the contraction of heart muscles. The normal systolic pressure is 120 mmHg or millimeters of mercury. Anything above 120 up to 139 mmHg is a sign of prehypertension while 140 mmHg and above indicates high blood pressure.
On the other hand, diastolic pressure, or the lower number, measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart muscles are relaxed and blood refills your heart or pressure in your arteries in between two heartbeats. The normal reading for diastolic pressure is less than 80 mmHg. If yours went 90 and above, it could mean you have hypertension.
In other words, the optimal blood pressure is 120/80. Anything beyond or below these numbers could indicate heart problems and you need to consult a doctor as soon as possible to avoid further complications.
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Sudden Spike In Blood Pressure Can Be Serious
Blood pressure is a measurement of the force that blood applies to your arterial walls as it pumps from your heart throughout your body. It also represents how hard your heart is working to push the blood. When blood pressure is higher, it means the heart must work harder to push blood through your system. In turn, the risk of heart disease or heart attack increases.
According to 2014 data, high blood pressure accounts for roughly 1,100 deaths every day in the United States, and only about half of all people with high blood pressure have it under control.
Disturbingly, most people may not even be aware that they have the condition, or are at least on the verge of becoming hypertensive. Some risk factors for high blood pressure include:
- Eating a high sodium/low potassium diet
- Not getting enough exercise/physical activity
- Overactive thyroid
- Overactive adrenal glands
A normal blood pressure is in the range of 120 mmHg/80 mmHg . The higher number represents systolic blood pressure and the lower represents diastolic. Prehypertension arises when systolic and diastolic pressures exceed these numbers, and hypertensionor high blood pressurearises when blood pressure reaches 140 mmHg/90mmHg.
Sometimes, however, something causes blood pressure to spike unexpectedlyand the higher your resting blood pressure is, the greater your risk of suffering a severe cardiac event becomes. Therefore, knowing how to lower blood pressure fast is very important.
Primary High Blood Pressure
While the specific cause of primary high blood pressure remains unknown, there is compelling evidence to suggest that a number of risk factors increase your chances of developing the condition.
These risk factors include:
- age – the risk of developing high blood pressure increases as you get older
- a family history of high blood pressure – the condition seems to run in families
- being of Afro-Caribbean or South Asian origin
- high-fat diet
- high amount of salt in your diet
- lack of exercise
- excessive alcohol consumption
A number of health conditions, such as diabetes and kidney disease, have also been linked to an increase risk of developing primary high blood pressure.
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Good Sleep Can Prevent And Manage High Blood Pressure
Most people experience a dip in blood pressure during the deepest stage of sleep , which is the body’s normal and healthy reaction to sleep. Not having that nighttime dip is a risk factor for heart disease and may increase daytime blood pressure.
Typically people spend 90 minutes to two hours in slow wave sleep per night. A recent study published in Hypertension found that men who got less slow wave sleep each night were a higher risk for hypertension than men who got more deep sleep.
While sleep disorders, like sleep apnea, and age can both affect the amount of deep sleep you get, there are steps you can take to ensure a good night’s sleep. Getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule and being more active during the day can help improve the quality of your sleep.
What Is Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of arteries as the heart pumps blood. When a health care professional measures your blood pressure, they use a blood pressure cuff around your arm that gradually tightens. The results are given in two numbers. The first number, called systolic blood pressure, is the pressure caused by your heart contracting and pushing out blood. The second number, called diastolic blood pressure, is the pressure when your heart relaxes and fills with blood.
A blood pressure reading is given as the systolic blood pressure number over the diastolic blood pressure number. Blood pressure levels are classified based on those two numbers.
- Low blood pressure, or hypotension, is systolic blood pressure lower than 90 or diastolic blood pressure lower than 60. If you have low blood pressure, you may feel lightheaded, weak, dizzy, or even faint. It can be caused by not getting enough fluids, blood loss, some medical conditions, or medications, including those prescribed for high blood pressure.
- Normal blood pressure for most adults is defined as a systolic pressure of less than 120 and a diastolic pressure of less than 80.
- Elevated blood pressure is defined as a systolic pressure between 120 and 129 with a diastolic pressure of less than 80.
- High blood pressure is defined as 130 or higher for the first number, or 80 or higher for the second number.
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The Top 10 Risk Factors For High Blood Pressure Include:
Being overweight or obese
The more you weigh the more blood flow you need to supply oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. As the volume of blood circulated through your blood vessels increases, so does the pressure inside your arteries.
Too much salt in your diet
Too much sodium in your diet can cause your body to retain fluid, and also causes the arteries in your body to constrict. Both factors increase blood pressure.
Too little potassium in your diet
Potassium helps balance the amount of sodium in your cells. Potassium causes the smooth muscle cells in your arteries to relax, which lowers blood pressure.
Not being physically active
Exercise increases blood flow through all arteries of the body, which leads to release of natural hormones and cytokines that relax blood vessels, which in turn lowers blood pressure. Lack of physical activity also increases the risk of being overweight.
Drinking too much alcohol
Having more than two drinks per day can cause hypertension, probably by activating your adrenergic nervous system, causing constriction of blood vessels and simultaneous increase in blood flow and heart rate.
High levels of stress can lead to a temporary, but dramatic, increase in blood pressure. If you try to relax by eating more, using tobacco or drinking alcohol, you may only exacerbate problems with high blood pressure.Relaxation and meditation techniques effectively lower blood pressure.
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Hypertension: What You Need To Know As You Age
You cant see high blood pressure, also called hypertension. And most ofthe time, you cant feel it. But if youre among the 78 million Americanswith hypertension or are one of the 70 million with prehypertension, its important to understandits effects on your healthand to take action today to bring your numbersdown to healthier levels.
Blood pressure is the force of blood against the inner walls of yourarteries. It has normal fluctuations throughout the dayfalling when yourerelaxed or asleep, rising naturally in the morning, and increasingtemporarily when youre under stress, excited or exercising. But when yourresting blood pressure level rises too high, it can scar, stiffen and/orweaken blood vessels. This effect can double your risk for aheart attack quadruple your odds for astroke raise your risk forheart failure, vision loss, kidney problems,dementiaand circulation problems such asperipheral artery disease weaken your bones and contribute toerectile dysfunctionin men.
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What Questions Should I Ask My Provider
- Are there supplements or non-prescription medicines that I shouldnt take?
- Can I keep taking these medicines if I get pregnant?
- What kinds of exercise should I do?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
If you dont treat high blood pressure, it can put you at risk for developing serious illnesses later in life such as heart attack, kidney failure and stroke. But if you follow your providers instructions, you can control your blood pressure. Be sure to take any medicines your provider ordered as instructed. Keep taking them even if your blood pressure numbers begin to fall into the normal range. Living a healthy lifestyle by eating healthy foods, watching your weight and getting regular exercise is also a great way to help control your blood pressure.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 09/21/2021.
Maintain A Healthy Weight
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.
|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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Whats The Impact Of Having High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for developing cardiovascular diseases such as:
- coronary heart disease – where the main arteries that supply your heart become clogged up with plaques
- strokes – a serious condition where the blood supply to your brain is interrupted
- heart attacks – a serious condition where the blood supply to part of your heart is blocked
Diabetes and kidney disease are also linked to high blood pressure complications.
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Eat More Potassium And Less Sodium
Increasing your potassium intake and cutting back on salt can also lower your blood pressure .
Potassium is a double winner: It lessens the effects of salt in your system and eases tension in your blood vessels. However, diets rich in potassium may be harmful to people with kidney disease, so talk with your doctor before increasing your potassium intake.
Its easy to eat more potassium. So many foods are naturally high in potassium. Here are a few:
- other processed snacks
Foods labeled low fat are usually high in salt and sugar to compensate for the loss of fat. Fat is what gives food taste and makes you feel full.
Cutting down on or even better, cutting out processed food will help you eat less salt, less sugar, and fewer refined carbohydrates. All of this can result in lower blood pressure.
Make it a practice to check nutrition labels. According to the Food and Drug Administration , a sodium listing of 5 percent or less on a food label is considered low, while 20 percent or more is considered high (
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Most People With Hypertension Feel Okay
Hypertension usually does not produce any symptoms, because the organs of the body can resist high blood pressure for a long time. Thats why its important to have regular medical examinations to make sure your blood pressure isnt creeping up as you grow older.High blood pressure over a period of time can contribute to many illnesses, including:
- heart attack
The effects of high blood pressure on the arteries are worsened by:
- cigarette smoking
- high levels of saturated fat in the diet
- high blood cholesterol
Responses to some types of stress may affect both blood pressure and changes in the arteries, but this remains scientifically uncertain.
Try Meditation Or Yoga
Yoga, which commonly involves breathing control, posture, and meditation techniques, can also be effective in reducing stress and blood pressure.
A 2013 review on yoga and blood pressure found an average blood pressure decrease of 3.62 mm Hg diastolic and 4.17 mm Hg systolic when compared with those who didnt exercise.
Studies of yoga practices that included breath control, postures, and meditation were nearly twice as effective as yoga practices that didnt include all three of these elements .
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High Blood Pressure Chart
- 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.
How To Lower Blood Pressure
There are lots of things you can do to lower your blood pressure.
If your doctor has given you blood pressure medication, take it as prescribed. However, you’ll also need to follow a heart-healthy lifestyle.
Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with hypertension, following these tips will be good for your blood pressure and good for your heart.
Stopping smoking is a great thing you can do for your blood pressure and your heart health.
Ask your doctor or nurse for help.
Phone Quitline 0800 778 778, or visit quit.org.nz for information and support.
Eat more heart-healthy foods and less salt
What you put into your body can make a big difference to your blood pressure.
Eat a wide variety of heart-healthy foods like:
- whole grains
Read more about the benefits of exercise.
Researchers are still trying to understand the exact link between stress and long-term high blood pressure. However being stressed contributes to other risk factors like poor diet and drinking more alcohol.
You can’t always remove the sources of stress in your life. But here are some things you can do to manage them.
- Enjoy exercise every day, like taking a walk.
- Take a break for yourself.
- Get 7-8 hours plus sleep each night.
- Talk about how you are feeling.
- Try relaxation music or breathing exercises.
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What Are The Symptoms Of High Blood Pressure
Most people who have high blood pressure do not have symptoms. This is why its sometimes called the silent killer. It is very important to have your blood pressure checked regularly.
Some people experience headaches, nosebleeds, or shortness of breath with high blood pressure. However, those symptoms can mimic many other things . Usually, these symptoms occur once blood pressure has reached a dangerously high level over a period of time.
Managing Pain And Blood Pressure With Medication
Your doctor may also prescribe medications to lower blood pressure. They will often take into account any other existing health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, or kidney issues. Medications that manage blood pressure include the following:
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors:Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors help prevent the narrowing of blood vessels.
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers :These drugs relax blood vessels and lower blood pressure by blocking angiotensin II. This compound restricts blood flow and narrows arteries and veins.
- Calcium channel blockers: This medication prevents excessive calcium from constricting blood flow and increasing pressure.
- Diuretics:Diuretics remove extra water and sodium from the body.
- Beta-blockers:Beta-blockers lower blood pressure by lowering your heartbeat.
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What Else Raises Blood Pressure
Other factors may also trigger an increase in blood flow. The following can raise blood pressure:
- Age: The risk of hypertension increases as you age.
- Family: You are more likely to get high blood pressure if it runs in your family.
- Already having another disease:Unmanaged diabetes, heart disease, thyroid, kidney, and autoimmune conditions may cause high blood pressure.
- Having clogged arteries:Damage to blood vessels may change their structure and increase blood pressure.
- Diet:Diets high in sugar and sodium can increase blood pressure.
- Lifestyle choices:Low physical activity, smoking, moderate alcohol intake, and not getting enough sleep are associated with high blood pressure.
- Mental health:Loneliness, stress, anxiety, and anger have been linked to increases in blood pressure.
- Your self-esteem: Low-self esteem and negative self-talk are harmful to blood pressure.
- Medications: NSAIDs , decongestants, hormonal birth control, and antidepressants are medications that can increase blood pressure.
- Hydration status: Not drinking enough water can cause high blood pressure.
- Holding the bladder: Putting off urinating for long periods of time may cause high blood pressure.
Regular Blood Pressure Checks For Over Over 40’s
The only way to find out whether you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure checked regularly. Ask your GP when you are next due for yours to be checked.
Blood pressure checks are usually available on request at most GP surgeries and health clinics. Some surgeries have home monitoring devices available, which you may be able to use at the time of blood pressure medication start up or change. Many also have a policy of arranging regular checks for you.
Adults who are over 40 and have not been diagnosed with high blood pressure should have their blood pressure checked at least once every five years. However, your blood pressure should ideally be checked more frequently, particularly if you have any contributory risk factors.
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