What Do Your Blood Pressure Numbers Mean
120/80 mm Hg is considered as the ideal blood pressure. Have you ever wondered what these two numbers mean?
Do you know that high blood pressure, or hypertension, is among the most common health issues in India? According to the National Family Health Survey , 24% of men and 21% of women in the country have elevated heart rates. Not only that, as per a Lancet study, India has among the lowest hypertension diagnosis in the world. If you have ever got your blood pressure checked, you know its monitored based on two numbers, or rather a fraction of two numbers. Have you ever wondered what these two numbers mean? A clear idea of these can help you take care of it, which has a connection with your heart health, in a better way. Hence, to understand the meaning of the two blood pressure numbers, Onlymyhealth spoke to Dr Arvind Kaul, Associate Director, Cardiology, Paras Hospitals, Panchkula.
What Is Low Blood Pressure/hypotension
Low blood pressure or hypotension is a condition where the systolic and diastolic pressure falls below 90 and 60 respectively. Blood pressure is usually measured in millimetres of mercury, and normal blood pressure is usually slightly less than 120/80 mm Hg.
To have low blood pressure is not always a concern however, chronic hypotension can cause a lack of blood flow to the brain, causing dizziness, blackouts or loss of consciousness, and may even be life-threatening in severe cases.
More often, low blood pressure is a symptom of a different concern, such as plaque build-up, a heart disorder or aging related medical conditions, making it necessary to pay attention to signs of low blood pressure in its initial stages.
When Is Low Blood Pressure Too Low Hypotension And More
Some people naturally have low blood pressure, known as hypotension. However, when high blood pressure suddenly becomes low blood pressure, it could be cause for concern.
Low blood pressure, or hypotension, may be a sign of good health and of a decreased risk of heart disease. But not always. At times, continually low blood pressure or a sudden drop in blood pressure can lead to worrisome symptoms and even serious health problems.
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What Can Cause Blood Pressure To Go Up Or Down
It’s normal for blood pressure to go up and down throughout the day. Things like exercise, stress, and sleeping can affect your blood pressure. Some medicines can cause your blood pressure to go up. These medicines include certain asthma medicines and cold remedies.
A low blood pressure reading can be caused by many things, including some medicines, a severe allergic reaction, or an infection. Another cause is dehydration, which is when your body loses too much fluid.
High Blood Pressure Treatment
The best way to lower blood pressure begins with changes you can make to your lifestyle to help lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease. Additionally, your doctor may prescribe medicine to lower your blood pressure. These are called antihypertensive medicines.
The goal of treatment is to reduce your blood pressure to normal levels. Your doctor may prescribe medicine thats easy to take and has few, if any, side effects. This treatment is highly successful. If your blood pressure can only be controlled with medicine, youll need to take the medicine for the rest of your life. It is common to need more than one medicine to help control your blood pressure. Dont stop taking the medicine without talking with your doctor. Otherwise, you may increase your risk of having a stroke or heart attack.
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Your Blood Pressure Is Impressive: Always Low But Dang Your Baseline Heart Rate Is Always Fast Like In The 90s
Every body is different however, higher resting heart rates can be an indication of underlying conditions such as hyperthyroidism, dehydration, the effects of drugs/medications , stress and high levels of stress hormones, or even deconditioning , explains Stacy Mitchell Doyle, MD, resident physician of FoodTherapyMD and long-time advocate of plant-based nutritional protocols.
Additional Causes of Baseline Fast Pulse
Overtraining in athletes or fitness enthusiasts
Menopausal/postmenopausal hormonal fluctuations
Though these aforementioned causes can be treated, the issue is the effect that a chronically fast pulse has on the heart.
Low blood pressure does not cancel out this effect.
Though historically, a normal pulse was defined as between 60 and 100 beats per minute, that was before the studies began coming out that linked a rapid resting heart rate with several serious conditions.
Higher heart rates mean your heart is working harder to pump blood, and over time, higher resting heart rates have been associated with higher incidence of heart disease, stroke and all-cause mortality, says Dr. Doyle.
Yesterdays Normal Is Todays Fast90s
A study that came out in 2010 found that heart rates exceeding 83 beats per minute were associated with a 55 percent greater risk of cardiovascular death and a 79 percent higher risk of all-cause mortality.
And high blood pressure, plus other cardiovascular risk factors, were adjusted for.
Treatment Of Low Blood Pressure
Unless accompanied by other conditions, low blood pressure is usually easy to treat and does not require much medication. Often, a low blood pressure diet may be prescribed, or a change in lifestyle may become necessary. Common recommendations include:
Increased intake of water: Dehydration can cause an electrolyte imbalance resulting in signs of low blood pressure, and care towards adequate hydration would be important, especially in high temperature situations, during fevers or dysentery.
Increased sodium in diet: Salted nuts, cheeses and cured fish and meats are high in sodium content, and would help stabilize blood pressure in case it is very low. Care must be taken to not overdo it, however, and for a balance to be maintained.
Limiting alcohol consumption: Alcohol consumption can cause fluctuation in heart rate and limiting its consumption for some time will help alleviate symptoms of low blood pressure in otherwise healthy individuals.
Exercise: Light exercises not involving much strain to the body help improve circulation of blood throughout, and keep the heart healthy. In cases of low blood pressure, it is important to be aware of its symptoms such as palpitations and cold skin so that exercising does not aggravate the condition.
Ceasing any aggravating medication:If intake of certain medication is seen to cause dips in blood pressure, your doctor may recommend a substitute for the drug, or even stopping its consumption till pressure is stabilized.
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Risk Of Injury From Falls
If your blood pressure is low enough, the drop can cause symptoms such as fainting or dizziness.This causes a significant risk of falling since youre not conscious to stop the fall. Additionally, youre not aware of how badly youve injured yourself during a fainting spell. This can lead to serious injuries, such as head trauma from hitting your head.
The Ideal Blood Pressure Levels
Maximum blood pressure values of 120/80 when physically at rest are considered ideal for an adult. Blood pressure levels up to 139/89 are within the normal range that do not pose any health risk. Levels over 129/84, however, are already considered in the elevated-normal range.
Blood pressure readings over 159/99 are considered to be minor hypertension and require a medical attention to avoid harmful complications.
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What Is A Blood Pressure Chart
The blood pressure chart is a way to document the readings a person has taken themselves. Because blood pressure fluctuates over the course of the day, the blood pressure chart is used to record both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, along with the date and time of the measurement. The pulse should also be recorded to provide additional information.
It allows self-monitoring of blood pressure and can help an attending doctor to better assess the values in the long term, improving the precision of the diagnosis.
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Postural Or Orthostatic Hypotension
Postural or orthostatic hypotension occurs when your blood pressure falls after a sudden movement. For example, you may feel dizzy or faint after changing posture, such as sitting up from a lying position, or standing up from a sitting position. This may cause you to lose your balance and fall over. You may also feel light-headed, have blurred vision, or lose consciousness.
The symptoms of postural or orthostatic hypotension should only last a few minutes as your blood pressure adjusts to your new position. This type of low blood pressure tends to affect people more as they get older when it can lead to more frequent falls. Similar symptoms may also occur after exercise.
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Diet And Nutrition For Low Blood Pressure
A balanced meal with complex carbohydrates, fish, lean meat, fruits and cooked vegetables goes a long way in preventing hypotension. Changing meal patterns to make them more frequent and less heavy prevent as well as address postprandial fatigue and hypotension.
On diagnosis of a dip in BP, a low blood pressure diet that supplies adequate sodium, and potassium while maintaining blood sugar levels is generally recommended for patients.Increased consumption of non-alcoholic beverages helps maintain adequate hydration and is recommended. Increasing salt quantities or addition of soy sauce in everyday cooking is a simple change that combats effects of low blood pressure and may be suggested by your doctor.
How Is Low Blood Pressure Treated
If your blood pressure is naturally low and isnt causing you any problems it probably wont need any treatment. If you have symptoms and your doctor or nurse feels that you would benefit from treatment, they will try to find the cause of your low blood pressure so that they can find the best way to treat it.
The treatments will vary depending on the cause.
- A change in medications. If your GP thinks that your blood pressure is caused by a medication youre taking they might want to try an alternative medication or a different dose.
- Hormone replacement. If your low blood pressure is caused by a change in certain hormones, for example if your adrenal glands have been damaged, you may be referred to a specialist called an endocrinologist. They might prescribe hormone replacement medication.
- Medicines to stimulate your nerves. If you have a neurological condition, you may be given medicines to stimulate the nerves.
- Medicines for low blood pressure. These medicines narrow your blood vessels or expand the volume of your blood to raise your blood pressure. These are very rarely needed, as the treatments listed above and the changes you can make for yourself are usually enough.
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Q How Do I Know If I Have Low Blood Pressure
Medications That Can Cause Low Blood Pressure
Medications might also cause your blood pressure to become too low.
Diuretics, tricyclic antidepressants, and erectile dysfunction drugs can also cause hypotension.
If a medication youre taking causes your blood pressure to become too low, your doctor may adjust the dosage or change the medication. This usually improves the hypotension.
Hypotension doesnt always cause symptoms. But sometimes low blood pressure means your vital organs arent receiving as much blood flow as they need. If this happens, you might feel tired or unwell. Symptoms of hypotension may include:
- fatigue, an all-around sense of tiredness or lacking energy
- lightheadedness, or feeling like you might faint
- dizziness, feeling off-balance when you get up from a reclined or seated position, or while youre standing
- nausea, a sense of discomfort in your stomach and feeling like you want to vomit
- clammy skin, when you feel damp or sweaty to the touch
- depression, persistent feelings such as sadness or low mood that interfere with your daily activities
Your treatment plan will depend on whats causing your hypotension. Your doctor will consider factors including:
- the type of hypotension youre experiencing
- the situations that may be causing hypotension for you
For some people, low blood pressure may not cause any symptoms. In cases where treatment is needed, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes, medical treatment, or a combination of both.
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High Blood Pressure Low Pulse Rate Does Mean
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Exercise For Low Blood Pressure
Everyday exercise such as a 30-minute walk or light running can serve to improve circulation and alleviate any existing symptoms of low blood pressure. It is best to go with a companion if already a patient of hypotension, in case episodes of blurry vision, giddiness, or fainting happen during these times.
It is necessary to avoid undue stress to the body and sudden, jerky movements through heavy lifting and other strenuous exercise so that the flow of movement is smooth. Discipline and consistency regarding exercise aids the underlying causes of low blood pressure, while alleviating its symptoms as well.
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How Does Blood Pressure Work
During relaxation of the heart , the left ventricle of the heart fills with blood returning from the lungs. The left ventricle then contracts and pumps blood into the arteries . The blood pressure in the arteries during contraction of the ventricle is higher because blood is being actively ejected into the arteries. It is lower during relaxation of the ventricle when no blood is being ejected into the arteries. The pulse we feel when we place our fingers over an artery is caused by the contraction of the left ventricle and the ejection of blood.
Blood pressure is determined by two factors:
Generally, blood pressure tends to be higher if more blood is pumped into the arteries or if the arterioles are narrow and/or stiff. Narrow and/or stiff arterioles, by resisting the flow of blood, increase blood pressure. Arterioles may become narrower when the muscles surrounding them contract. Arterioles may become stiff and narrow when older patients develop atherosclerosis.
Blood pressure tends to be lower if less blood is being pumped into the arteries or if the arterioles are larger and more flexible and, therefore, have less resistance to the flow of blood.
The heart rate increases and the forcefulness of the heart’s contractions increase, pumping more blood through the heart.
Monitoring And Controlling Blood Pressure
Baroreceptors are specialized cells located within arteries that act as blood pressure sensors. Those in the large arteries of the neck and chest are particularly important. When baroreceptors detect a change in blood pressure, they trigger the body to react to maintain a steady blood pressure. Nerves carry signals from these sensors and the brain to
The heart, which is signaled to change the rate and force of heartbeats . This change is one of the first, and it corrects low blood pressure quickly.
The arterioles, which are signaled to constrict or dilate .
The veins, which are signaled to constrict or dilate .
The kidneys, which are signaled to change the amount of fluid excreted and to change the amount of hormones that they produce . This change takes a long time to produce results and thus is the slowest mechanism for how the body controls blood pressure.
Nonetheless, the ways that the body can monitor and control blood pressure have limitations. For example, if a person loses a lot of blood quickly, the body cannot compensate quickly enough, blood pressure falls, and organs may begin to malfunction .
In addition, as people age, the body responds to changes in blood pressure more slowly.
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Symptoms And Causes Of Low Blood Pressure
Many different conditions and situations can cause low blood pressure, from standing up too fast to being pregnant. Sometimes, low blood pressure is linked to an underlying problem. Thats why its important to see your doctor right away if you experience the signs of low blood pressure.
Symptoms of low blood pressure can include:
Low blood pressure can be a sign of serious heart, endocrine or neurological conditions. If left untreated, the brain and other vital organs do not get the oxygen and nutrients they need. In extreme cases, this can cause shock, a life-threatening condition.
If you show signs of low blood pressure, your doctor will conduct an exam and may perform tests to determine whats causing the condition. Low blood pressure can occur with many other conditions.
Some causes of low blood pressure are:
Diagnosing High Blood Pressure
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.
Before having your blood pressure taken, you should rest for at least five minutes and empty your bladder. To get an accurate blood pressure reading, you should be sitting down and not talking when the reading is taken.
Having one high blood pressure reading does not necessarily mean that you have high blood pressure. Your blood pressure can change throughout the day. Feeling anxious or stressed when you visit your GP can raise your blood pressure .
Therefore, your GP will need to take several readings over a set period of time, usually every month, to see whether your blood pressure level is consistently high.
Blood and urine tests may also be carried out in order to check for conditions that are known to cause an increase in blood pressure, such as kidney infections.
You may also be given a blood pressure device to take home so that you can record your blood pressure level throughout the day. This also helps to identify white coat syndrome and therefore helps to identify the best treatment options for you.
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