Why Is It Important To Know If You Have High Blood Pressure
Early detection of high blood pressure is very important. Often referred to as the silent killer because it may show no symptoms, high blood pressure puts you at an increased risk for heart disease, heart failure, and stroke, among other things. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2013, more than 360,000 deaths in the United States included high blood pressure as a primary or contributing cause.
How The Test Is Performed
Sit in a chair with your back supported. Your legs should be uncrossed, and your feet on the floor.
Your arm should be supported so that your upper arm is at heart level. Roll up your sleeve so that your arm is bare. Be sure the sleeve is not bunched up and squeezing your arm. If it is, take your arm out of the sleeve, or remove the shirt entirely.
You or your provider will wrap the blood pressure cuff snugly around your upper arm. The lower edge of the cuff should be 1 inch above the bend of your elbow.
- The cuff will be inflated quickly. This is done either by pumping the squeeze bulb or pushing a button on the device. You will feel tightness around your arm.
- Next, the valve of the cuff is opened slightly, allowing the pressure to slowly fall.
- As the pressure falls, the reading when the sound of blood pulsing is first heard is recorded. This is the systolic pressure.
- As the air continues to be let out, the sounds will disappear. The point at which the sound stops is recorded. This is the diastolic pressure.
Inflating the cuff too slowly or not inflating it to a high enough pressure may cause a false reading. If you loosen the valve too much, you will not be able to measure your blood pressure.
The procedure may be done two or more times.
The Lowdown On Low Blood Pressure
“In a healthy person, low blood pressure is a sign of good health as long as the systolic pressure is above 80,” explains Dr. Pacold. “Very low blood pressure in a person with heart disease could be a sign of heart failure.”
One type of low blood pressure that could predict future heart problems is called orthostatic hypotension. In this type of low blood pressure, “there is a drop of 10 to 20 points of blood pressure when a person moves from a sitting or supine position to a standing position,” Pacold says. “It causes a sudden sense of lightheadedness and can be due to a heart that is starting to have trouble compensating.”
A recent study on orthostatic hypotension published in the journal Hypertension followed more than 12,000 adults for about 17 years. None of them had heart failure at the start. People who had episodes of orthostatic hypotension during the study period, especially between the ages of 45 to 55, were more likely to develop heart failure by the end.
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Heart Attack And Heart Disease
High blood pressure can damage your arteries by making them less elastic, which decreases the flow of blood and oxygen to your heart and leads to heart disease. In addition, decreased blood flow to the heart can cause:
- Chest pain, also called angina.
- Heart attack, which happens when the blood supply to your heart is blocked and heart muscle begins to die without enough oxygen. The longer the blood flow is blocked, the greater the damage to the heart.
- Heart failure, a condition that means your heart cant pump enough blood and oxygen to your other organs.
Blood Test And Detecting High Blood Pressure
A blood test can tell you many things, but having high blood pressure is not one of them. The only way to detect and diagnose high blood pressure is from measuring your blood pressure . A diagnosis of high blood pressure is made when your blood pressure is consistently measured at a high level.
There are a few different ways to measure your blood pressure. You can do it at home with a home blood pressure monitor. I highly recommend 3 affordable, high quality home monitors. You can check out my blog post on those by . In addition, blood pressure can be measured in a pharmacy, which I dont recommend or at your physicians office.
Your home blood pressure measurements can be a great benefit when determining a high blood pressure diagnosis but cant be relied on solely. Receiving accurate measurements by performing the correct techniques is critical. I wrote a whole blog post on that which you can read here. Your home blood pressure readings should be taken along with you to your next doctor appointment.
A doctor will use the following to help make a diagnosis of high blood pressure:
- Your home measurements
- The medical office BP measurements
- Medical history
- Family history
- Physical exam
The new blood pressure guidelines released in 2017, changed what measurement determines a high blood pressure reading. Blood pressure rises from elevated to High Blood Pressure Stage 1, when systolic measures 130-139 mmHg or diastolic measures 80-89 mmHg.
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Why The Test Is Performed
High blood pressure has no symptoms, so you may not know if you have this problem. High blood pressure is often discovered during a visit to the provider for another reason, such as a routine physical exam.
Finding high blood pressure and treating it early can help prevent heart disease, stroke, eye problems, or chronic kidney disease . All adults 18 years and older should have their blood pressure checked regularly:
- Once a year for adults aged 40 years and older
- Once a year for people at increased risk for high blood pressure, including people who are overweight or obese, African Americans, and those with high-normal blood pressure 130 to 139/85 to 89 mm Hg
- Every 3 to 5 years for adults aged 18 to 39 years with blood pressure lower than 130/85 mm Hg who do not have other risk factors
Your provider may recommend more frequent screenings based on your blood pressure levels and other health conditions.
Monitoring Your Blood Pressure
It is important that you monitor your blood pressure. That answer to the question of What does blood pressure tell you? is that it tells you quite a bit about your lifestyle, yourself and is a good marker of health. This is why your doctor always takes your blood pressure when you come into the office.
If you are worried about your blood pressure, you can also keep track of it by taking your blood pressure at a drug store that has a blood pressure cuff. You can also buy kits to use at home for monitoring.
For more health advice to keep your body in tip-top shape, .
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Can High Blood Pressure Affect Pregnancy
High blood pressure complicates about 10% of all pregnancies. There are several different types of high blood pressure during pregnancy and they range from mild to serious. The forms of high blood pressure during pregnancy include:
Chronic hypertension: High blood pressure which is present before pregnancy.
Gestational hypertension: High blood pressure in the latter part of pregnancy.
Preeclampsia: This is a dangerous condition that typically develops in the latter half of pregnancy and results in hypertension, protein in the urine and generalized swelling in the pregnant person. It can affect other organs in the body and cause seizures .
Chronic hypertension with superimposed preeclampsia: Pregnant people who have chronic hypertension are at increased risk for developing preeclampsia.
Your provider will check your blood pressure regularly during prenatal appointments, but if you have concerns about your blood pressure, be sure to talk with your provider.
Digital Blood Pressure Monitors
Digital blood pressure monitors are often used on the wrist, but they can also be placed on the finger or upper arm and are activated simply by pressing a button. They read the blood pressure automatically based on variations in the volume of blood in the arteries. When taking blood pressure measurements on the wrist, it’s important to keep the hand level with the heart. Otherwise it can affect the readings.
Digital meters can sometimes be inaccurate and produce unreliable readings anyway especially in people with certain heart rhythm problems or arteries that have hardened due to arteriosclerosis.
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What Causes High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure usually develops over time. It can happen because of 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 for developing high blood pressure. High blood pressure can also happen during pregnancy.
You can manage your blood pressure to lower your risk for serious health problems that may affect your heart, brain, kidneys, and eyes.
How Can I Be More Active
- Check first with your healthcare provider before increasing your physical activity. Ask your provider what type and amount of exercise is right for you.
- Choose aerobic activities such as walking, biking or swimming.
- Start slowly and increase activity gradually. Aim for a regular routine of activity five times a week for 30 to 45 minutes each session.
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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.
Managing Your Blood Pressure Lowering Medicines
Tips for managing your medicines
- Take your medicine every day.
- Don’t stop taking your medicine.
- Speak to your doctor before you stop taking a medicine.
- Keep a list of all your medicines.
Some people are concerned about taking a medicine every day, even when they feel better. Alternative medicines may be available if you are experiencing side effects. Your doctor will be able to discuss these concerns with you.
Keep a list of all your medicines
It can sometimes be difficult to keep track of all your medicines. A medicines list is a useful way to keep all the information about your medicines together. It may also be helpful if you need to see more than one doctor. You can use a medicines list to record:
- all your medicines, including prescription, non-prescription and complementary medicines
- what each medicine is for
- how much of each medicine to take
- when and how to take each medicine.
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And Whats The Definition Of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, puts a strain on your heart and blood vessels and makes you more susceptible to heart attacks and strokes.
Normal blood pressure is regarded as being between 120-129 and 80-84 .
The definition of high blood pressure, according to 2018 ESC/ESH Guidelines, is anything above 140/90 mmHg. If you measure it in the comfort of your own home, where youre likely to be more relaxed, the limit is slightly lower at 135/85.
If your blood pressure is between 120/80 and 140/90, you may be at risk of developing hypertension at some stage in the future unless you take action to bring it under control. This is called prehypertension.
A blood pressure reading of over 180/120 is dangerously high. Doctors call this a hypertensive crisis, and it requires immediate treatment.
Systolic blood pressure, the top number, is more important than diastolic blood pressure in people over 40. Thats because its a better predictor of stroke and heart attack. And only one of the two numbers has to be higher than it should be to count as high blood pressure.
All this can be summarised in a blood pressure chart, like this:
To check your blood pressure against the chart, start from your systolic pressure on the left-hand side, and move your finger to the right until you reach your diastolic pressure. The colour will tell you whether you have normal or abnormal blood pressure.
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 1,500 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. Dont add salt at the table.
- Avoid or cut down on foods high in fat or salt, such as 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 its 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.
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What A Blood Test Can Tell You
Blood tests show us whether the levels of different substances in our blood fall within a normal range, Tkachuk said. Ranges will vary depending on age, gender and race but in most cases, normal is defined as levels seen in 95 per cent of healthy people in a specific group.
Overall, a test will indicate specific markers including red and white blood cell counts, blood sugar, hemoglobin, cholesterol and vitamin levels. A test can also reveal the presence of specific diseases.
Blood tests also can help find potential problems early, when treatments or lifestyle changes may work best. Blood tests can also assess individuals risk of acquiring diseases, for example, risk of getting diabetes or heart disease.
How Does Echo Measure Pulmonary Hypertension
Elevated pulmonary pressures in pulmonary hypertension can lead to right ventricular hypertrophy and right atrial enlargement which can sometimes be observed on an electrocardiogram . The ECG findings of PH include right axis deviation, right ventricular strain pattern, and P pulmonale.
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You Just Received A High Blood Pressure Reading Now What
Youre probably fairly used to the process of getting your blood pressure checked on virtually every visit to your doctors office. You sit down in a chair, are told how to position your arm and you sit and wait as the cuff gives your arm a good squeeze. Usually, the nurse recites off two numbers, records them in your file and says everything is good to go. Maybe you do the same for yourself with an at-home blood pressure machine and every so often measure your blood pressure to ensure it stays within the normal range. So, what happens when you check your blood pressure one day and you have a high reading?
Dr. Iva Smolens, cardiac surgeon at Banner Heart Hospital, explains that if you perform an isolated, one-time blood pressure reading that indicates , you should have it checked with your doctor within the week. Dr. Smolens further explains that a high blood pressure diagnosis is likely to be made after you and your doctor find that your blood pressure is high more than 3 times within the week. If this occurs, you should check with your doctor for consultation options.
What Can Blood Pressure Tell You
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What Is A Good Blood Pressure
Its important to emphasize that a good blood pressure reading depends on your own individual health. Your provider will be able to tell you whats healthy and safe given your personal health circumstances.
Nonetheless, below are guidelines from the American Heart Association for people in general. Remember: Your blood can be temporarily high or low at times . This chart applies to how your blood pressure is normally, which is why you may want to take an average of several readings before seeing where you fall.
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*Adapted from the American Heart Association