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.
What Diet Helps Control High Blood Pressure
- Eat foods that are lower in fat, salt and calories, such as skim or 1% milk, fresh vegetables and fruits, and whole grain rice, and pasta.
- Use flavorings, spices and herbs to make foods tasty without using salt. The optimal recommendation for salt in your diet is to have less than 1500 milligrams of sodium a day. Don’t forget that most restaurant foods and many processed and frozen foods contain high levels of salt. Use herbs and spices that do not contain salt in recipes to flavor your food; do not add salt at the table.
- Avoid or cut down on butter and margarine, regular salad dressings, fatty meats, whole milk dairy products, fried foods, processed foods or fast foods, and salted snacks.
- Ask your provider if you should increase potassium in your diet Discuss the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet with your provider. The DASH diet emphasizes adding fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to your diet while reducing the amount of sodium. Since it is rich in fruits and vegetables, which are naturally lower in sodium than many other foods, the DASH diet makes it easier to eat less salt and sodium.
What Increases Your Risk
Things that increase your risk for high blood pressure include:
- A family history of high blood pressure.
- Eating a lot of sodium .
- Drinking more than 2 alcoholic drinks a day or more than 14 drinks a week for men or 9 drinks a week for women.
- Being overweight or obese.
- Lack of exercise or physical activity.
- Race. People of African, South Asian, First Nations, Inuit or Metis;descent are more likely to get high blood pressure, often have more severe high blood pressure, and are more likely to get the condition at an earlier age than others. Why they are at greater risk is not known.
Other possible risk factors include:
Read Also: What Gives You High Blood Pressure
Blood Pressure Is Linked To Other Medical Issues
High blood pressure can be the first indication of a serious underlying condition. When a patient comes in with high blood pressure, doctors will check their urine and kidney function; do an electrocardiogram to check the size of the heart; and look for lung changes.
Stress on the blood vessels makes people with hypertension more prone to heart disease, peripheral vascular disease,;heart attack, stroke, kidney disease and aneurysms. Correspondingly, chronic conditions such as diabetes,;kidney disease, sleep apnea and high cholesterol increase the risk for developing high blood pressure.
In some women, pregnancy can contribute to high blood pressure, leading to preeclampsia. Postpartum blood pressure typically goes back to normal levels within six weeks. However, some women who have high blood pressure during more than one pregnancy may be more likely to develop high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases as they age.
Some of these medical issues can also cause spikes in high blood pressure .
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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Causes Of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure wont occur suddenly overnight and will usually develop over time. The exact causes of high blood pressure are not known but several things can play a role that can include 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 of developing high blood pressure.;High blood pressure can also happen during pregnancy.
Several things may play a role in high blood pressure, including:
- Too much salt in the diet
- Too much alcohol consumption
- Family history of high blood pressure
- Chronic kidney disease
- Sleep apnea
Wrong Medication Or Wrong Dose
For each person theres an ideal combination of medications and dosages that would best control their hypertension. Some people havent yet received that ideal combination. Its important to work with a doctor who is familiar with the range of medications and who knows what works best for each individual.
Lack Of Physical Activity
A sedentary lifestyle can contribute to several health issues, including high blood pressure.
According to the AHA, physical activity can help a person lower their blood pressure. It can also improve their heart health and reduce their weight.
The AHA recommend 150 minutes a week of moderate-to-intense physical activity, such as walking briskly, running, or bicycling.
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.
Duration Of High Blood Pressure
The amount of time it takes to lower blood pressure varies depending on how high your blood pressure is and the aggressiveness of your treatment program. Medication can help lower blood pressure quickly, usually within a couple of days.
But because of potential side effects, a long-term aggressive medication regimen may not be sustainable.
Your doctor will prescribe lifestyle changes to lower your blood pressure, too. Studies show a healthy diet and regular exercise begin to make a significant impact on blood pressure levels within three weeks.
Making The Exercise Habit Stick
Despite our best intentions, many of us struggle ditching our sedentary lifestyle. But there are steps you can take to make exercise less intimidating and more fun.
Start small and build momentum. If exercising for 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week sounds overwhelming, set a smaller goal and gradually build up as you gain self-confidence and momentum.
Reward yourself. Once it becomes a regular habit, exercise will reward you with more energy, better sleep, a greater sense of well-being, and improved cardiovascular health. When youre starting out, though, give yourself a simple reward for successfully completing a workout, such as having a hot bath or a favorite cup of coffee.
Choose activities you enjoy. Youre more likely to stick with a workout you find pleasurable. If you hate running but like yoga or dancing, for example, dont force yourself onto the treadmill every day. Pick activities that fit your lifestyle, abilities, and taste.
See How to Start Exercising and Stick to It to learn more.
The effects on your blood pressure
- 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise, such as walking, for five days of the week can reduce your reading by 4 to 11 mm Hg.
How Is Resistant Hypertension Diagnosed
- Full history and physical exam, which includes letting your doctor know about all medications and supplements, whether they are prescription, over-the-counter, herbal or recreational. Its important to mention if you skip doses of daily medicines.
- True measurement of your blood pressure using correct technique and calibrated equipment.
- Home blood pressure measurement during the day and 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring to record your blood pressure throughout a regular day. It may be used if your physician suspects your blood pressure readings in the office dont tell the whole story.
- Tests for secondary conditions, which may include special blood work and imaging studies. Identifying and treating these conditions may eliminate hypertension or at least make it more treatable.
- Tests for organ damage caused by hypertension, which may include:
- Electrocardiogram to measure your hearts size and rhythm
- Echocardiogram to measure your hearts size and function
- Fundoscopic eye exam to check for damaged blood vessels inside the eye; these tiny blood vessels come in from the brain and are a unique opportunity for your doctor to judge the health of similar blood vessels in your brain, heart and kidneys
- Urinalysis to check for kidney damage
- Other blood tests
- Chest X-ray
Whats The Difference Between Blood Pressure And Pulse
Blood pressure and pulse are two measurements that a doctor may use to monitor your heart and overall health. While theyre similar, they can each say very different things about whats happening in your body.
Pulse, also called heart rate, refers to the number of times your heart beats in one minute. Typical pulse measurements range from 60 to 100 beats per minute.
Blood pressure is an estimate of the force your blood is exerting on your blood vessels. A typical value for blood pressure is 120/80. Doctors consider blood pressure to be elevated when its between 130 and 139 systolic over 80 to 89 diastolic .
If you have high blood pressure with a low pulse, it means your blood is putting increased pressure on your blood vessels, but your hearts beating fewer than 60 times per minute. Read on to learn more about what this combination means for your health.
What Is The Treatment For High Blood Pressure
Mild high blood pressure can often be treated by making lifestyle changes, including:
- losing weight
- limiting your alcohol intake to no more than 2 drinks per day for men, or 1 drink per day for women with high blood pressure
However, lifestyle changes may not be enough. Some people also need medication to help reduce blood pressure levels to normal. While medicines are usually very effective at lowering blood pressure, they may cause side effects in some people.
Usually doctors will start a person on a low dose of a medicine and see how it goes. If it doesnt work well enough, or if there are troublesome side effects, other medicines will be used, sometimes in combination, until the blood pressure is controlled. This can take time. Some people will take medicines for life, although others will find that continuing to lose weight and changing their diet reduces the need for medicines.
Someone whose blood pressure is very high or causing symptoms such as headache, or if they have conditions such as heart disease or diabetes, may need urgent treatment with medicines to bring the blood pressure down to normal levels.
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners recommends that you regularly review with your doctor or specialist any medications you are taking for high blood pressure or high cholesterol to assess the ongoing benefits and risks. For further information, visit the Choosing Wisely Australia website.
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.
What To Think About
- The medicine your doctor chooses may be based on other health problems you have. For example, doctors often prescribe ACE inhibitors for people who have diabetes or heart failure.
- Some people who get a cough while taking ACE inhibitors do well with ARBs, which usually don’t cause a cough.
- You may need to avoid some over-the-counter medicines. For example, check with your doctor before you take any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxen and ibuprofenwith high blood pressure medicines. NSAIDs may raise blood pressure and keep your blood pressure medicines from working well. NSAIDs may also interact with your blood pressure medicine and cause kidney problems.
- Don’t take any other prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, or other natural health products unless you talk to your doctor first. Medicines can interact with each other and keep blood pressure medicines from working right or cause a bad reaction.
How Is High Blood Pressure Diagnosed
High blood pressure is diagnosed with a blood pressure monitor. This is a common test for all doctor visits. A nurse will place a band around your arm. The band is attached to a small pump and a meter. He or she will squeeze the pump. It will feel tight around your arm. Then he or she will stop and watch the meter. This provides the nurse with 2 numbers that make up your blood pressure. The top number is your systolic reading . The bottom number is your diastolic reading . You may also hear the doctor or nurse say a blood pressure is 120 over 80.
- Normal blood pressure is less than 120 on top and less than 80 on the bottom.
- Prehypertension levels are 120-139 on top and 80-89 on the bottom.
- High blood pressure, stage 1 is 140-159 on top and 90-99 on the bottom.
- High blood pressure, stage 2 is 160 or higher on top and 100 and over on the bottom.
The higher your blood pressure is, the more often you need to have it checked. After age 18, have your blood pressure checked at least once every two years. Do it more often if you have had high blood pressure in the past.
How Is It Treated
If you have high blood pressure, your doctor will give you a blood pressure goal. Your goal will be based on your health.
You can help lower your blood pressure by making healthy changes in your lifestyle. If those lifestyle changes don’t work well enough, you may also need to take pills. Either way, you will need to control your high blood pressure throughout your life.
Treatment depends on how high your blood pressure is, whether you have other health problems such as diabetes, and whether any organs have already been damaged. Your doctor will also consider how likely you are to develop other diseases, especially heart disease.
Most people take more than one pill for high blood pressure. Work with your doctor to find the right pill or combination of pills that will cause the fewest side effects.
In Most Cases High Blood Pressure Does Not Cause Headaches Or Nosebleeds
- The best evidence indicates that high blood pressure does not cause headaches or nosebleeds, except in the case of hypertensive crisis, a medical emergency when blood pressure is 180/120 mm Hg or higher. If your blood pressure is unusually high AND you have headache or nosebleed and are feeling unwell, wait five minutes and retest. If your reading remains at 180/120 mm Hg or higher, call 911.
- If you are experiencing severe headaches or nosebleeds and are otherwise unwell, contact your doctor as they could be symptoms of other health conditions.
Add Healthy Foods To Your Diet
Slowly work your way up to eating more servings of heart-healthy plants. Aim to eat more than seven servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Then aim to add one more serving per day for two weeks. After those two weeks, aim to add one more serving. The goal is to have ten servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
Surprising Causes Of High Blood Pressure
Quick – what causes high blood pressure? The first culprits that pop into your mind are likely to be: eating too much salt, being stressed out all the time, and alcohol abuse. And you would be right. But there are also less obvious causes of high blood pressure, a condition that affects about one in three, or 78 million, adults in the U.S.
The best data demonstrates that hypertension is almost unavoidable as we age, says Clyde Yancy, MD, chief of cardiology and associate director of the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute in Chicago, Illinois. Once we reach age 55, we have a 90 percent chance of becoming hypertensive.”
Yet that inevitability doesnt mean we cant do something about it. Step one is to modify your lifestyle: lose weight, exercise, and eat a wholesome diet, explains Dr. Yancy. Another thing you can do: Get to know these less well-known blood pressure factors:
Other Treatment To Reduce Risk Of Heart Disease
There are some natural health products that you may hear about to lower the risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. It is not clear if some vitamins, minerals, and multivitamins can lower risk. But it is clear that some natural health products, such as vitamin E and beta-carotene, do not lower risk.footnote 3
Talk with your doctor about the best ways to lower your risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Tell your doctor if you plan to use natural health products. Your doctor can make sure they are safe for you.