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.
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How To Take Blood Pressure
You can take your blood pressure at home using a wrist blood pressure monitor or an upper arm cuff blood pressure monitor. Experts typically recommend upper arm cuffs because they are the most accurate. Upper arm cuffs can come with either a manual or digital monitor. Both work well, but if youre measuring your blood pressure on your own regularly, a digital one will likely be easiest to use correctly.
To take your blood pressure accurately with a digital upper arm cuff, start by sitting quietly in an upright position for a few minutes, allowing your body a moment to relax. Be mindful to uncross your legs and ankles, as well as use comfortable support for your back.
With the monitor sitting on a table in front of you, place your arm next to itat approximately heart leveland place the cuff around your bare upper arm about one inch above your elbow. Secure the cuff so that you can only slide a fingertip under the top edge.
Next, simply turn on the monitor, press the start button, and take normal breaths as the cuff inflates and deflates, measuring your blood pressure and producing your reading on the screen.
Checking Blood Pressure At Home
Keeping track of blood pressure at home is important for many people, especially if you have high blood pressure. This helps you and your doctor find out if your treatment is working.
Your doctor may also suggest that you check your pressure at home if they think you may have “white coat hypertension.” It’s a real condition. The stress of being in a doctor’s office raises your blood pressure, but when you’re home, it’s normal.
Ask your doctor to recommend an easy-to-use home blood pressure monitor. Make sure the cuff fits properly. If your arm is too big for the cuff, the reading may be higher than your blood pressure really is. Ask your doctor for a larger cuff or make sure you buy a home monitor with a cuff that fits you.
You also can use a wrist blood pressure monitor, but they often aren’t as accurate. Follow the directions that come with the device to make sure you are using it correctly.
No matter which type of blood pressure monitor you have, it’s a good idea to take it to your doctor’s office. You can compare its reading to the numbers your doctor gets. Avoid caffeine, cigarettes, and exercise for at least 30 minutes before the test.
When you take your blood pressure at home, sit up straight in a chair and put both feet on the floor. Ask your doctor or nurse to show you the right way to position your arm so you get accurate readings.
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Blood Pressure Readings Explained
What do the numbers mean?
Everyone would like to have healthy blood pressure. But what exactly does that mean?
When your doctor takes your blood pressure, its expressed as a measurement with two numbers, with one number on top and one on the bottom , like a fraction. For example, 120/80 mm Hg.
The top number refers to the amount of pressure in your arteries during the contraction of your heart muscle. This is called systolic pressure.
The bottom number refers to your blood pressure when your heart muscle is between beats. This is called diastolic pressure.
Both numbers are important in determining the state of your heart health.
Numbers greater than the ideal range indicate that your heart is working too hard to pump blood to the rest of your body.
Normal Blood Pressure Range
A normal blood pressure reading indicates that the heart and blood vessels are not working too hard pushing blood and that the blood is not exerting too much pressure on the walls of the vessels, says Aseem Desai, M.D., a cardiologist at Providence Mission Hospital in Southern California. Recent data from the American Heart Association suggests the optimal normal reading for adults over 20 is lower than 120/80 mmHgVirani S, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics 2021 update . American Heart Association Journal. 2021 143:e254-e743. .
Dr. Desai notes blood pressure can vary depending on a persons age, gender, race and ethnicity, but it should still fall within the general normal range. While numbers lower than 120/80 are generally considered normal, Dr. Desai adds, The target blood pressure for treatment varies depending on age and associated co-morbidities .
Previously, guidance for normal blood pressure for adults varied by gender and specific age, but new data states normal blood pressure for adults as a collective is less than 120/80 mmHgHigh Blood Pressure Symptoms and Causes. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed 7/16/2021. .
When it comes to race and ethnicity, Dr. Desai says certain groups have a higher rate of hypertension. Non-Hispanic Black people have a significantly higher rate of hypertension compared to non-Hispanic white people, and Hispanics and non-Hispanic Asians have lower rates than the first two, he says.
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What Do The Numbers In A Blood Pressure Test Mean And What Does This Test Tell The Doctor
Well Carmen, blood pressure is really just that- the pressure at which blood moves around the body in your arteries. The easiest and least invasive way to test what that pressure is at any given moment is to momentarily stop the flow of blood and then slowly allow it to begin again. The pressure at which it begins to flow is the highest pressure the blood exerts on your artery walls.
Medical professionals do this by using a blood pressure meter known as a Sphygmomanometer They encircle a limb, usually an arm, with a balloon-like device known as a blood pressure cuff. While pumping the cuff up, they use a stethoscope to listen for your heart beat past where the cuff is cutting off blood flow. When they no longer hear your heart beating, they slowly release the pressure while watching the pressure gauge.
When they start to hear your heart beat again, this is the top number of your blood pressure, known as your systolic pressure. They continue to release the pressure until they once again, no longer hear the heart beating, this is the bottom number of your blood pressure, known as your diastolic pressure. Together these numbers tell them two things: the pressure that is inside your arteries between heartbeats and the pressure inside your arteries when your heart squeezes .
Bonus Blood Pressure Facts:
References: None specifically on this one, but dont fret on the accuracy. I am a trained professional , so know a thing or two about this sort of thing.
Side Effects Of Low Blood Pressure
Low blood pressure may not be discussed as often as high blood pressure, but it should be addressed, as prolonged low blood pressure can negatively affect your organs.
A certain amount of blood pressure is needed to maintain blood flow to the organs, says Dr. Wong. The blood supplies oxygen and nutrients to these organs. If the blood pressure is too low, an adequate blood supply cannot get to these organs.
If left untreated, low blood pressure can increase your risk of fainting, heart attack and organ damage, adds Dr. Desai.
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How Can Internists In Raleigh Help With High Blood Pressure
At Raleigh Medical Group we specialize in treating chronic diseases like high blood pressure, and internists are in a unique position to help you. Internists are doctors who specialize in internal medicine. This specialty looks at the overall functioning of your body and how a problem in one area can affect your overall health. Our internists are also experts at treating patients who have multiple chronic diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, allergies and high cholesterol.
Are you interested in more information on high blood pressure? Check out our previous blog post on Five Complications of High Blood Pressure.
Consequences Of A High Reading
Prolonged high blood pressure can put a strain on your arteries and organs. It often occurs when the arteries become congested with plaque caused by cholesterol or smoking. It affects one in four adults in the UK1, although many dont know it because it often shows no symptoms until something potentially major happens, like a heart attack or stroke.
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What Do The Readings Mean
As a general guide:
140/90mmHg or over you may have high blood pressureMost doctors use 140/90mmHg as the cut off for point for diagnosing high blood pressure . This is the point where your risk of serious health problems goes up. They might prescribe medications and advise you to make changes to your lifestyle to bring your blood pressure down. 120/80mmHg up to 140/90mmHg pre-high blood pressureAlso called high-normal blood pressure. This is not high blood pressure, but it is a little higher than it should be and means you could go on to develop high blood pressure. See how you can make healthy changes to your lifestyle to lower it. 90/60mmHg up to 120/80mmHg ideal blood pressureAlso called normal blood pressure. Your blood pressure reading is healthy. At this level you have a much lower risk of heart disease and stroke. Following a healthy lifestyle will help you to keep it in the healthy range. 90/60mmHg or lower you may have low blood pressureLow blood pressure usually isnt a problem, but it can sometimes make you feel faint or dizzy or could be a sign of another health problem.
The video below explains how your blood pressure numbers are linked to the risk of stroke and other disease.
When To Go To The Er
If you have high blood pressure or know you are at risk, consider purchasing an inexpensive monitor for the home. Call a doctor whenever you get a reading over 140/90, but if youre experiencing any of the following symptoms or you get a reading higher than 180/110, go the ER:
- Severe headache
- Heart attack symptoms like chest pain, sweating, and nausea.
- Stroke symptoms like numbness, tingling, weakness, and vision changes.
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How To Read Blood Pressure Numbers
Now lets explore the measurement. Blood pressure is always shown as two numbers. Use 120 over 80, which is written as 120/80 mm Hg , as an example. The 120 is the top number and is known as systolic blood pressure. It represents the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats. The 80 is the bottom number and is known as diastolic blood pressure. This is the pressure measured between your heartbeats when your heart is relaxing.
While both numbers are important, the American Heart Association notes the top number usually gets more attention. Thats because it helps show your risk of having a stroke or heart attack, along with kidney disease, congestive heart failure, vision loss and memory loss.
A high systolic reading is considered a major heart disease risk factor for people older than 50. As we age, arteries can become stiff and develop plaque buildup. In other words, if your blood is essentially punching the walls inside your heart, over and over again, damage will eventually occur.
Heres how the American Heart Association categorizes blood pressure levels.
- Normal: systolic less than 120 and diastolic less than 80
- Prehypertension: systolic 120-139 or diastolic 80-89
- Stage 1 high blood pressure: systolic 140-159 or diastolic 90-99
- Stage 2 high blood pressure: systolic 160 or higher or diastolic 100 or higher
- Hypertensive crisis : systolic higher than 180 or diastolic higher than 110
Low blood pressure is typically not a problem unless you notice symptoms like:
How Blood Pressure Is Measured
A doctor or nurse will measure your blood pressure with a small gauge attached to an inflatable cuff. It’s simple and painless.
The person taking your blood pressure wraps the cuff around your upper arm. Some cuffs go around the forearm or wrist, but often they aren’t as accurate.
Your doctor or nurse will use a stethoscope to listen to the blood moving through your artery.
Theyâll inflate the cuff to a pressure higher than your systolic blood pressure, and it will tighten around your arm. Then theyâll release it. As the cuff deflates, the first sound they hear through the stethoscope is the systolic blood pressure. It sounds like a whooshing noise. The point where this noise goes away marks the diastolic blood pressure.
In a blood pressure reading, the systolic number always comes first, and then the diastolic number. For example, your numbers may be “120 over 80” or written as 120/80.
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When To See A Doctor
If a person who monitors their blood pressure at home does not see lower readings despite implementing lifestyle changes, they should get in touch with a doctor to determine the underlying cause of their high blood pressure.
A person should seek immediate medical attention if they get two readings of 180/120 mm Hg or higher within a 5-minute period, especially if they are experiencing a headache or nosebleed.
Knowing Your Own Numbers
Your blood pressure reading shows your systolic and diastolic blood pressure as two numbers with a slash between them. If your blood pressure is below 120/80 mm Hg, you are considered within the healthy, normal range. If you have normal blood pressure, continue to stick to healthy lifestyle habits like exercising regularly, eating a heart-healthy diet and managing stress.
If your blood pressure falls outside of the normal range, your healthcare provider may speak with you about cardiovascular treatment.
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How To Measure Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury, mmHg. It consists of two numbers, such as 130/80, which we say as 130 over 80. The first is your systolic blood pressure, the maximum pressure your blood attains as your heart beats and pushes it around your body. The second is your diastolic pressure, the minimum level it reaches between beats.
What Is An Ideal Blood Pressure
Systolic blood pressure between 90 and 119, and diastolic pressure between 60 and 79 is the ideal blood pressure .
Anything above 140/90 is considered to be high blood pressure.
If your reading is somewhere between the ideal range and the high figures, you may be at risk of developing high blood pressure in the future, and should consider making changes to your lifestyle to prevent this.
Only one of your readings needs to be high to signal that you have high blood pressure.
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Whats A Normal Reading
For a normal reading, your blood pressure needs to show a top number thats between 90 and less than 120 and a bottom number thats between 60 and less than 80. The American Heart Association considers blood pressure to be within the normal range when both your systolic and diastolic numbers are in these ranges.
Blood pressure readings are expressed in millimeters of mercury. This unit is abbreviated as mm Hg. A normal reading would be any blood pressure below 120/80 mm Hg and above 90/60 mm Hg in an adult.
If youre in the normal range, no medical intervention is needed. However, you should maintain a healthy lifestyle and healthy weight to help prevent hypertension from developing. Regular exercise and healthy eating can also help. You may need to be even more mindful of your lifestyle if hypertension runs in your family.
What Do Those Numbers Mean A Look At Blood Pressure
It happens at almost every visit to the doctors office. A nurse will wrap a blood pressure cuff around your arm, pump it up and then tell you that your blood pressure is something over something. Many of us have no idea what these numbers mean and are unsure what questions to even ask about the readings. Blood pressure reading should not be a mystery. Here are a few basics from the American Heart Association that are helpful in gaining an understanding of this important measure of your health.
What are those two numbers?Blood pressure is a way to measure the force of the blood moving through your blood vessels. The measurement is given in mm Hg, which refers to the pressure needed to move mercury up that tube on the blood pressure scale a distance of one millimeter. Mercury has long been used to measure pressure and temperature. Metals in general are good conductors of heat and expand or contract depending on the pressure of their environment. Mercury is the only metal that is liquid at room temperature so it is a good tool for measurement.
When is there cause for concern?Normal blood pressure readings are numbers lower than 120/80. If your systolic pressure is 120 to 129, and your diastolic pressure is less than 80, you have elevated blood pressure . If you have several elevated readings, it is important to take steps to control the condition to avoid developing high blood pressure.
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The 411 On Blood Pressure Numbers
Youve seen blood pressure checkers at pharmacies. Your physician does this quick test at your doctors appointment. You might even have a family member or friend who has a blood pressure monitor at home and youre wondering if you should too. Often, Ill use my dads just because Im curious. So, its no surprise were both interested in what the blood pressure numbers mean.
Dr. Nadia Khan, president and chair of the board, Hypertension Canada, shares with us a quick breakdown:
The systolic blood pressure the top number is the amount of pressure or force your blood exerts on your blood vessel walls when your heart beats, says Dr. Khan. The diastolic blood pressure the bottom number is the amount of pressure or force your blood exerts on your blood vessel walls in between heart beats.
Together, these numbers show your health care provider if theres any issues. Note that the numbers are expected to be lower when you check your blood pressure at home. I did the test at my desk with a monitor sent for me to test, and my blood pressure numbers are 115/68 mmHg.
Most people, including those with kidney disease Less than 140/90 mmHg at the doctors office or