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More than half of patients with hypertension miss at least one dose a year. What is your reason for skipping a dose? Is it the cost, the side effects, or the number of pills? Whatever it is, talk to your doctor. There are many medicines available for hypertension in the market, and it is often possible to switch to another medication that suits you instead.
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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.
Why Is Your Blood Pressure Important
Your blood pressure is important because if it is too high, it affects the blood flow to your organs. Over the years, this increases your chances of developing heart disease, stroke, chronic kidney disease, eye disease, erectile dysfunction and other conditions.
Very occasionally, people with very high blood pressure are at serious risk of problems and need urgent treatment in hospital to reduce the risk of a stroke or heart attack.
Current Australian guidelines recommend that if you have persistent raised blood pressure over 160/100 mmHg, but are at low risk of having a stroke or heart attack, you should talk to your doctor or specialist about taking medication to lower your blood pressure.
For further information, visit the Choosing Wisely Australia website.
If youre over 18, you should have your blood pressure checked by your doctor at least every 2 years, or more often if advised.
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Lowering Systolic Blood Pressure More May Cut Health Risks
One major study found that lowering systolic blood pressure to well below the commonly recommended level also greatly lowered the number of cardiovascular events and deaths among people at least 50 years old with high blood pressure.
When study participants achieved a systolic blood pressure target of 120 mmHg compared to the higher target of 140 mmHg recommended for most people, and 150 for people over 60 issues such as heart attack, stroke and heart failure were reduced by almost one-third, and the risk of death by almost one-fourth.
“That’s important information, because more lives may be saved and more deaths may be prevented if we maintain lower blood pressure in certain patients,” says Lynne Braun, NP, PhD, a nurse practitioner at the Rush Heart Center for Women.
Braun cautions, however, that your personal blood pressure target depends on a variety of things, including your current blood pressure, lifestyle, risk factors, other medications you are taking and your age. “Every person has to be evaluated as an individual,” she says. “Realistically, we can’t get everybody down to 120, and trying to do so may create unintended problems.”
It can be dangerous, for instance, to keep an older person on medications that have unsafe side effects, such as diuretics , which can cause dehydration and dizziness in older adults.
And there can be other issues involved with taking multiple medications, such as cost and compliance.
When To See A Doctor
Most of the time, high blood pressure doesnât cause headaches or nosebleeds. But, this can happen in a hypertensive crisis when blood pressure is above 180/120. If your blood pressure is extremely high and you have these symptoms, rest for 5 minutes and check again. If your blood pressure is still unusually high, itâs a medical emergency. Call 911.
Itâs important to remember that high blood pressure doesnât usually have symptoms. So, everyone should get it checked regularly. The American Heart Association recommends that adults with normal blood pressure should get blood pressure checked each year at routine health visits. You may also have it checked at a health resource fair or other locations in your community.
If you have high blood pressure, your doctor might recommend that you monitor it more often at home. At-home monitors may work better than store-based machines. Your doctor will also recommend making lifestyle changes along with medications to lower your blood pressure.
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Treatments For High Blood Pressure
A number of factors will guide you and your doctor to determine the best treatment option for you. These factors include which type of hypertension you have and what causes have been identified. Normally, a combination of medication and lifestyle choice recommendations will be given to keep your high blood pressure in check.
There are effective interventions to lower your blood pressure that do not require a doctors visit or medications. They include physical exercise, weight loss, stress management, and reducing your consumption of salt and alcohol.
So What Can I Do About Low Blood Pressure
Finding a solution often starts with pinpointing the culprit. Many people with hypotension can be treated by avoiding triggering medications or situations, says Dr. Wong.
In many cases, she says, medications may need to be adjusted or discontinued. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms and whether your medications could be the cause. Maybe you need to switch your antidepressant. Or your beta blocker dose is too high.
Lifestyle changes can also be helpful, adds Dr. Wong. Most of the recommendations to raise blood pressure are the same ones experts suggest for lowering it.
Those include eating a wholesome diet and getting moderate-intensity aerobic exercise for at least 30 to 60 minutes a day to keep your blood pumping. Aim to fill your days with fruits, vegetables and whole foods low in added sugar. This will help ensure that your food is rich in heart-boosting minerals such as potassium and magnesium, says Dr. Bonney.
Reducing stress is another strategy that can help, Dr. Bonney adds. Elevation of cortisol, the fight-or-flight hormone, can negatively affect blood pressure, she says. Mindfulness exercises and meditation can help regulate blood pressure levels for many people.
In general, low blood pressure isnt cause for alarm. But if you find yourself affected in ways that concern you such as feeling unsteady from head rushes whenever you stand speak with your doctor about how to reduce the impact of your symptoms.
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Salt Intake And High Blood Pressure
Reducing the amount of salt you eat can also help to manage or even avoid high blood pressure. To help reduce your salt intake:
- Ensure your diet consists of wholefoods including vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, lean meat and poultry, fish and seafood, legumes, unsalted nuts and seeds.
- Avoid packaged and processed foods that are high in salt. You cant see the salt in these foods, so you dont know how much salt you are having. Get into the habit of checking food labels.
- Choose low-salt food where possible. If you cant find low-salt products, those with moderate amounts of salt are ok too. Another simple alternative is to look for labels with low salt, salt reduced or no added salt.
- Avoid adding salt to cooking or at the table flavour meals with herbs and spices instead.
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Symptoms In Teens And People In Their Early 20s
Teenagers can develop high blood pressure due to obesity or an underlying medical condition.
Possible medical factors
- endocrine disease, which affects the hormones
- vascular disease, which affects the blood vessels
- a neurological condition
These conditions may have symptoms of their own.
The symptoms of high blood pressure, if they occur, will be the same as for other groups.
A 2021 study notes that, while death rates from cardiovascular disease have fallen among older adults, the reduction has been less dramatic in those aged 1839 years. The author suggests there are lower rates of awareness, treatment, and management of high blood pressure in those aged 2039. With this in mind, they call for more effective identification of high blood pressure in these age groups to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems later in life.
Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring
Having a raised blood pressure reading in 1 test does not necessarily mean you have high blood pressure.
Blood pressure can fluctuate throughout the day. Feeling anxious or stressed when you visit your GP can also raise your blood pressure.
If you have a high reading, you may be asked to take some readings with a 24-hour monitor that checks your blood pressure throughout the day.
This will confirm whether you have consistently high blood pressure.
It’s known as 24-hour or ambulatory blood pressure monitoring.
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Why Diastolic Pressure Is Important Too
The findings about low diastolic blood pressure are intriguing, and they make sense intuitively, Dr. Conlin says. Diastolic pressure is measured during the point in the heart cycle when blood flows into the coronary arteries that feed the heart. When those arteries are clogged with fatty deposits, blood pressure beyond the narrowed areas will drop as blood works its way through the narrowed channels. As a result, part of the heart muscle may not get enough blood. Starved for oxygen and nutrients, the heart may become weak and prone to damage.
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How To Lower Blood Pressure
Treatment will depend on several factors, including how high the blood pressure is and the risk of cardiovascular disease or a stroke.
The doctor will recommend different treatments as blood pressure increases. For slightly high blood pressure, they may suggest making lifestyle changes and monitoring the blood pressure.
If blood pressure is high, they will recommend medication. The options may change over time, according to how severe the hypertension is and whether complications arise, such as kidney disease. Some people may also need a combination of several different medications.
All You Need To Know About Blood Pressure
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What Causes Low Blood Pressure
There are many possible factors, but a top cause is dehydration, says Seema Bonney, MD. Shes the founder and medical director of the Anti-Aging and Longevity Center of Philadelphia.
Almost half of your blood volume is water. It helps shuttle blood cells, nutrients and all the other good stuff that keeps you going to the places they need to be. When youre low on water, that can mean less blood volume and, in turn, less pressure against your blood vessels.
According to the AHA, other possible causes of low blood pressure include:
- Pregnancy. During pregnancy, the body secretes a hormone called progesterone, explains Dr. Bonney. Progesterone helps to relax blood vessel walls and increases the flow of blood to the mother and the baby. And this lowers blood pressure.
- Hormone-related disorders. An example is an underactive thyroid . When you dont have enough thyroid hormone, your heart rate can slow. And this can lower blood pressure.
- Certain medications. High blood pressure medications can sometimes work too well. Tricyclic antidepressants and erectile dysfunction medications can also lower your blood pressure.
- Heart problems. Issues such as heart failure can make it hard for the heart to pump enough blood to meet your bodys needs. And this can put your organs and other body systems at risk.
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Variations In Blood Pressure
Your blood pressure changes to meet your bodys needs. If a reading is high, your doctor may measure your blood pressure again on several separate occasions to confirm the level.
Your doctor may also recommend that you measure your blood pressure at home or have a 24-hour recording with a monitoring device.
How Can You Bring Your Blood Pressure Down Quickly
Here are some simple recommendations:
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What Should I Do If I Have High Blood Pressure
If your healthcare provider has diagnosed you with high blood pressure, they will talk with you about your recommended blood pressure target or goal. They may suggest that you:
- Check your blood pressure regularly with a home blood pressure monitor. These are automated electronic monitors and are available at most pharmacies or online.
- Quit smoking and/or using tobacco products.
- Work on controlling anger and managing stress.