Let’s Talk About Blood Pressure
Almost half of American adults have high blood pressure, and many dont know it. Most of the time high blood pressure has no obvious symptoms to indicate that something is wrong, but HBP can lead to heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure.
To help the community be aware of the risks and make changes that matter, the AHA created the eLearning micromodules Lets Talk About Blood Pressure.
The online modules take about 15 minutes to complete and bring awareness to the problem, explain blood pressure numbers in a way that is easily understood, present lifestyle and other treatments to lower and manage high blood pressure, and provide support in sharing this information with others in their family and community.
Its important to know about blood pressure and how to keep it in the healthy range. High blood pressure is a symptomless silent killer that quietly damages blood vessels and leads to serious health problems.
While there is no cure, using medications as prescribed and making lifestyle changes can enhance your quality of life and reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and more.
Does High Blood Pressure Increase Heart Rate
Heart rate and blood pressure do not necessarily increase at the same rate. A rising heart rate does not cause your blood pressure to increase at the same rate. Even though your heart is beating more times a minute, healthy blood vessels dilate to allow more blood to flow through more easily. When you exercise, your heart speeds up so more blood can reach your muscles. It may be possible for your heart rate to double safely, while your blood pressure may respond by only increasing a modest amount.
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.
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High Systolic Blood Pressure Stage 1
A high systolic blood pressure stage 1 reading is when systolic blood pressure is between 130-139 mmHg, regardless of the diastolic number 3.
Doctors will recommend lifestyle changes and may consider prescribing medicine based on the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Systolic is just one of over ten topics in my article, What Is The Blood Pressure Chart? All Five BP Categories. Check it out and find out why the elevated pressure range is a major concern moving forward.
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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Improving Blood Pressure Reading Accuracy
Your systolic and diastolic pressuresthe highest and lowest points of your heartbeatchange depending on your activity level, stress, fluid intake, and other factors.
You need to do your best to limit how these other factors might change your pressure when you’re taking a blood pressure reading.
For the most accurate reading, check your blood pressure when you are in a calm, warm space after you have been able to rest quietly for at least five minutes.
You should be relaxed, with your arms at your sides, and the cuff should be placed on your arm at about the level of your heart. Your legs should be uncrossed, and your bladder should be empty, as both of these factors can affect your reading.
Measuring blood pressure this way is a challenge in a busy provider’s office. Your provider might suggest you take your blood pressure at home.
How Is An Unusual Map Treated
An unusual MAP is usually a sign of an underlying condition or problem in the body, so the treatment depends on the cause. causes may include heart conditions, Sepsis, stroke, internal bleeding, and more.
For a low MAP, treatment may focus on safely raising blood pressure quickly to avoid organ damage. This is usually done with:
- intravenous fluids or blood transfusions to increase blood flow
- medications called vasopressors that tighten blood vessels, which can increase blood pressure and make the heart beat faster or pump harder
Depending on the cause, treating a high MAP may also require quick action, in this case, to reduce overall blood pressure. This can be done with oral or intravenous nitroglycerin . This medication helps to relax and widen blood vessels, making it easier for blood to reach the heart.
Once the blood pressure is under control, the doctor can continue treating the underlying cause. This may involve:
- breaking up a stroke-causing blood clot
- inserting a stent into a coronary artery to keep it open
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Low Systolic Blood Pressure
The American Heart Association doesnt state a specific number at which blood pressure is considered too low, as long as none of the symptoms of trouble are present. Therefore, what is low systolic blood pressure?
Most experts define low systolic blood pressure as a systolic number less than 90 mmHg.
How Blood Pressure Is Controlled
When the heart contracts, the blood inside the left ventricle is forced out into the aorta and arteries. The blood then enters small vessels with muscular walls, called arterioles. The tone in the muscular walls of the arterioles determines how relaxed or constricted they are. If narrowed, they resist flow.Reduced flow of blood is detected in the brain, the kidneys and elsewhere. Nerve reflexes are stimulated and hormones are then produced. The heart is induced to beat more forcefully so that blood pressure is maintained at a higher level, to overcome the restricted flow through the arterioles. The achievement of good flow eases possible problems for function of the brain and kidneys.These adjustments occur normally. However, in some people the adjustments become fixed and high blood pressure persists. These people have developed hypertension.
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Testing Your Blood Pressure At Home
Your GP may suggest 24-hour or ambulatory blood pressure monitoring if they think you may have high blood pressure .
ABPM tests your blood pressure regularly over 24 hours, by using a cuff attached to a portable device that’s worn on your waist.
You can continue with your daily activities during this time.
If you want to regularly check your blood pressure at home, you can buy a machine.
How Can You Manage Your High Blood Pressure
Treatment of high blood pressure often starts with lifestyle changes, including decreasing salt in your diet, losing weight if necessary, stopping smoking, cutting down on alcohol use, and regular exercise.
In addition to lifestyle changes, medications are often used to lower blood pressure. There are several types of medications that treat high blood pressure with each type of medication having benefits and risks that should be carefully weighed by you and your health care provider. Most people take more than one medication in order to bring their blood pressure down to their treatment goal.
Your blood pressure medication should begin to work within days. However, because high blood pressure is a long-lasting medical condition that often has little or no symptoms, remembering to take your medications can be a challenge. Combination medicines, long-acting or once-a-day medications, may be used to decrease the burden of taking numerous medications and help ensure medications regularly. Once started, the medication should be used until your doctor tells you to stop.
Controlling your blood pressure should be part of a healthy living plan and lifelong task. The damage that high blood pressure causes your internal organs does not cause any symptoms until serious damage has been done.
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What Is High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is blood pressure that is higher than normal. Your blood pressure changes throughout the day based on your activities. Having blood pressure measures consistently above normal may result in a diagnosis of high blood pressure .
Your health care team can diagnose high blood pressure and make treatment decisions by reviewing your systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels and comparing them to levels found in certain guidelines.
The guidelines used to diagnose high blood pressure may differ from health care professional to health care professional:
- Some health care professionals diagnose patients with high blood pressure if their blood pressure is consistently 140/90 mm Hg or higher.2 This limit is based on a guideline released in 2003, as seen in the table below.
- Other health care professionals diagnose patients with high blood pressure if their blood pressure is consistently 130/80 mm Hg or higher.1 This limit is based on a guideline released in 2017, as seen in the table below.
|systolic: 130 mm Hg or higherdiastolic: 80 mm Hg or higher|
If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, talk with your health care team about your blood pressure levels and how these levels affect your treatment plan.
Blood Pressure: What Do The Numbers Mean And Why Do They Matter
Each time you go to the doctor, you get a blood pressure reading. You know the drill: a nurse places a cuff around your upper arm. The cuff squeezes, putting pressure on your arm, and slowly releases.
Your blood pressure gives your doctor information about your overall health, as well as your health risks. But what do the numbers actually mean? And how does high blood pressure affect your health?
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What Do The Blood Pressure Numbers Mean
When you get a blood pressure reading, youll see two numbers. The first number is your systolic blood pressure. Systolic blood pressure refers to the pressure in your artery walls when your heart contracts . The second number is your diastolic blood pressure. This number refers to the pressure in your artery walls when your heart rests between beats.
In general, the first number, your systolic blood pressure, gives your doctor the most information about your risks for heart disease. Over time, systolic blood pressure can go up as people get more plaque buildup and their arteries stiffen. So higher systolic blood pressure can indicate increased damage and increased heart disease risk.
But your diastolic blood pressure is also important. If you are between ages 40 to 89, both your stroke and heart disease risk double with every 10 mm Hg increase in diastolic blood pressure.
How Blood Pressure Is Tested
Blood pressure machines vary, but they’re all a type of measuring device, which often have an arm cuff attached to it.
The cuff is usually wrapped around your upper arm and filled with air until it feels tight. This can feel uncomfortable but it only lasts a few seconds.
It’s important to relax and not talk during this time, because this is when your blood pressure is measured.
If a healthcare professional is doing this for you, they may also use a stethoscope to record your blood pressure.
An automatic device usually picks up the measurements from sensors in the arm cuff, which are sent to a digital display.
You should get the results straight away.
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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.
High Blood Pressure And Older Adults
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High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a major health problem that is common in older adults. Your bodys network of blood vessels, known as the vascular system, changes with age. Arteries get stiffer, causing blood pressure to go up. This can be true even for people who have heart-healthy habits and feel just fine. High blood pressure, sometimes called “the silent killer,” often does not cause signs of illness that you can see or feel. Though it affects nearly half of all adults, many may not even be aware they have it.
If high blood pressure isn’t controlled with lifestyle changes and medication, it can lead to serious health problems, including cardiovascular disease such as heart disease and stroke, vascular dementia, eye problems, and kidney disease. The good news is that blood pressure can be controlled in most people.
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When To Consult A Doctor
If a person monitors their blood pressure at home and does not see lower readings despite implementing lifestyle changes, they should contact a medical professional. Doctors can help to determine the underlying cause of their high blood pressure.
A person should seek immediate medical attention if they have two readings of 180/120 mm Hg or higher within 5 minutes, especially if they are experiencing a headache or nosebleed.
Doctors do not associate increased diastolic blood pressure with cardiovascular events in younger individuals.
However, increases in diastolic pressure in those aged
- Bae, E. H., et al. . Chronic kidney disease risk of isolated systolic or diastolic hypertension in young adults: A nationwide sample based-cohort Study.
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.
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How Often You Should Check Your Blood Pressure
The American Heart Association recommends checking your blood pressure beginning at age 20 and measuring it every two years if its normal. If its high, your doctor will want to see you more often, especially if you are controlling it with medication. A primary care doctor can check your blood pressure and take steps to help you keep it well controlled. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about your blood pressure.
Remember: Even extremely high blood pressure levels may not cause noticeable symptoms. Get to the emergency department or call 911 if you have weakness on one side, slurred speech, severe headaches, or vision changes such as blind spots or blurred vision.
Have more questions about your blood pressure?
Talk to a doctor near you.
Which Blood Pressure Number Is More Important
Your healthcare provider can use the top or bottom number to diagnose you with high blood pressure. However, they usually focus more on the top number as a risk factor for heart disease if youre older than 50.
As you get older, the top blood pressure number rises because your arteries get stiff and collect plaque over time.
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How Can You Reduce Your Risk Of High Blood Pressure
Fortunately, there are certain things you can do to help reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure. These include the following:
- Eat right: A healthy diet is an important step in keeping your blood pressure normal. 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.
- Keep a healthy weight: Going hand-in-hand with a proper diet is keeping a healthy weight. Since being overweight increases your blood pressure, losing excess weight with diet and exercise will help lower your blood pressure to healthier levels.
- Cut down on salt: The recommendation for salt in your diet is to have less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day . To prevent hypertension, you should keep your salt intake below this level. 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.
- Keep active: Even simple physical activities, such as walking, can lower your blood pressure .
- Drinkalcoholin moderation: Having more than one drink a day and two drinks a day can raise blood pressure.