What Do Blood Pressure Numbers Mean
Blood pressure is measured using two numbers:
The first number, called systolic blood pressure, measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats.
The second number, called diastolic blood pressure, measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart rests between beats.
If the measurement reads 120 systolic and 80 diastolic, you would say, 120 over 80, or write, 120/80 mmHg.
Treatment Of High Blood Pressure
Treatment for HBP depends on its severity and associated risks of developing other diseases. Treatment options include:
- Make and keep appointments to see your doctor for routine check-ups and follow-up tests.
- ACE inhibitors will help blood vessels relax and open up, leading to a lower blood pressure.
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers will help blood vessels open up, leading to a lower blood pressure.
- Beta blockers will help reduce your blood pressure.
- Alpha blockers will help reduce the arteries resistance, relaxing the muscle tone of the vascular walls.
- Alpha-2 receptor agonists will help reduce blood pressure by decreasing the activity of the sympathetic portion of the involuntary nervous system.
- Calcium channel blockers will help relax and open up narrowed blood vessels, reduce heart rate and lower blood pressure.
- Combined alpha and beta blockers are used as an IV drip for those patients experiencing a hypertensive crisis.
- Central agonists will help decrease the blood vessels ability to tense up or contract.
- Diuretics water pills will help reduce the amount of fluid retention in your body.
- Peripheral adrenergic inhibitors will help reduce blood pressure by blocking neurotransmitters in the brain.
- Vasodilators will help the muscle in the walls of the blood vessels to relax, allowing the vessel to dilate.
Treatment And Medication Options For High Blood Pressure
Most people who have high blood pressure will likely need lifelong treatment to help ward off or delay serious health problems brought on by the condition.
Options to treat high blood pressure may include eating a healthy diet with less salt, taking medication, and incorporating additional lifestyle changes. These include exercise, limiting alcohol intake, smoking cessation, and managing stress.
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Risks Of High Blood Pressure
If your blood pressure is too high, it puts extra strain on your blood vessels, heart and other organs, such as the brain, kidneys and eyes.
Persistent high blood pressure can increase your risk of a number of serious and potentially life-threatening health conditions, such as:
- have a relative with high blood pressure
- are of black African or black Caribbean descent
- live in a deprived area
Making healthy lifestyle changes can sometimes help reduce your chances of getting high blood pressure and help lower your blood pressure if it’s already high.
About High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is usually defined as having a sustained blood pressure of 140/90mmHg or above.
The line between normal and raised blood pressure is not fixed and depends on your individual circumstances. However, most doctors agree that the ideal blood pressure for a physically healthy person is around 120/80mmHg.
A normal blood pressure reading is classed as less than 130/80mmHg.
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Early Warning Sign: Elevated Blood Pressure
An elevated blood pressure reading means that your blood pressure falls just above the normal level, corresponding to a systolic pressure between 120 and 129 or a diastolic pressure of 80 or less. The new guidelines eliminate the previous category of prehypertension. About one-fourth of Americans have elevated levels and they have two times the risk of heart disease compared with those who have lower blood pressures. Lifestyle changes can help many people with prehypertension lower their blood pressure.
Factors that increase your blood pressure can cause elevated levels. Medications such as birth control pills, cold remedies, decongestants, over-the-counter pain relievers, and some prescription drugs may cause a temporary rise in blood pressure. The buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries can also lead to prehypertension. Other conditions that may lead to prehypertension include the following:
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Thyroid disease
There are usually no symptoms with elevated blood pressure. The only way to keep track of your blood pressure is to visit your doctor regularly and have your blood pressure checked.
- Losing weight if overweight or obese
- Eating a healthy, low-salt diet
- Exercise regularly
- Quit smoking
What Is Portal Hypertension
The portal venous system contains veins coming from the stomach, intestine, spleen, and pancreas. These veins merge into the portal vein, which branches into smaller vessels and travel through the liver. Portal hypertension occurs when there is an increase in the blood pressure within the portal venous system. When the vessels in the liver are blocked due to liver damage, blood cannot flow properly through the liver. This causes high blood pressure in the portal system.
Portal Hypertension Causes
Cirrhosis of the liver is the most common cause of portal hypertension. In cirrhosis, the scar tissue blocks the flow of blood through the liver. Blood clots in the portal vein, blockages of the veins that carry blood from the liver to the heart, parasitic infection , and focal nodular hyperplasia are also causes of portal hypertension.
Portal Hypertension Symptoms
Symptoms of portal hypertension include the following:
- Gastrointestinal bleeding, which can cause black, tarry stools or blood in stools, or vomiting of blood
- Encephalopathy or confusion
- Reduced levels of platelets
Portal Hypertension Treatment
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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.
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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What Are The Treatments For High Blood Pressure
You will work with your provider to come up with a treatment plan. It may include only the lifestyle changes. These changes, such as heart-healthy eating and exercise, can be very effective. But sometimes the changes do not control or lower your high blood pressure. Then you may need to take medicine. There are different types of blood pressure medicines. Some people need to take more than one type.
If your high blood pressure is caused by another medical condition or medicine, treating that condition or stopping the medicine may lower your blood pressure.
NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Whats Considered High Blood Pressure In Adults
Healthy blood pressure in adults is a reading of 120/80 mm Hg or below. But, what does it mean if your blood pressure numbers are higher than this?
A blood pressure of 120 to 129 mm Hg systolic and under 80 mm Hg diastolic is considered elevated. Elevated blood pressure means you have a greater risk of developing high blood pressure later on.
Your doctor may suggest eating less salt, eating a heart healthy diet, or living a more active lifestyle.
If your blood pressure reading falls into any of the following ranges, its important to talk with your doctor about medication or other lifestyle changes that may help keep your hypertension under control.
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Blood Pressure Checks During Pregnancy
If you are pregnant, you should have your blood pressure checked on a regular basis, even if it is not high.
Watching your blood pressure while you are pregnant reduces your risk of developing pregnancy-induced hypertension. This can lead to a serious condition called pre-eclampsia where there is a problem with the placenta .
Why Is Hypertension An Important Issue In Low
The prevalence of hypertension varies across regions and country income groups. The WHO African Region has the highest prevalence of hypertension while the WHO Region of the Americas has the lowest prevalence of hypertension .
The number of adults with hypertension increased from 594 million in 1975 to 1.13 billion in 2015, with the increase seen largely in low- and middle-income countries. This increase is due mainly to a rise in hypertension risk factors in those populations.
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Black Americans And High Blood Pressure
According to the CDC, high blood pressure is more common in non-Hispanic Black American men and women than any other ethnic group. Fifty-four percent of non-Hispanic Black Americans have hypertension, compared with 46 percent of non-Hispanic white Americans, 39 percent of Asian Americans, and 36 percent of Hispanic Americans. Black Americans also tend to develop hypertension earlier in life and experience more severe blood pressure elevation. Black American and Mexican American children are more likely to have high blood pressure than white children.
It is not known for sure why high blood pressure is more common in this group, but researchers theorize it may be partly due to higher rates of obesity and diabetes among Black Americans and a gene that makes Black Americans more sensitive to salt. In people who have this gene, even just one-half teaspoon of salt can elevate blood pressure by 5 mmHg.
Primary High Blood Pressure
While the specific cause of primary high blood pressure remains unknown, there is compelling evidence to suggest that a number of risk factors increase your chances of developing the condition.
These risk factors include:
- age – the risk of developing high blood pressure increases as you get older
- a family history of high blood pressure – the condition seems to run in families
- being of Afro-Caribbean or South Asian origin
- high-fat diet
- high amount of salt in your diet
- lack of exercise
- excessive alcohol consumption
A number of health conditions, such as diabetes and kidney disease, have also been linked to an increase risk of developing primary high blood pressure.
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Tips For Taking Blood Pressure Medication
Untreated high blood pressure can increase your risk of serious health problems. If your doctor prescribes medication to lower your blood pressure, remember:
- If you take blood pressure medication and your blood pressure goes down, it means medication and lifestyle changes are working. If another doctor asks if you have high blood pressure, the answer is, “Yes, but it is being treated.”
- Healthy lifestyle changes may help lower the dosage you need.
- Get up slowly from a seated or lying position and stand for a bit before walking. This lets your blood pressure adjust before walking to prevent lightheadedness and falls.
- Tell your doctor about all the drugs you take. Don’t forget to mention over-the-counter drugs, including vitamins and supplements. They may affect your blood pressure. They also can change how well your blood pressure medication works.
- Blood pressure medication should be taken at the same time each day as part of your daily routine. For example, take it in the morning with breakfast or in the evening before brushing your teeth. If you miss a dose, do not double the dose the next day.
- Remember to refill your medication before you run out and bring it with you when traveling. Its important to keep taking your medication unless your doctor tells you to stop.
- Before having surgery, ask your doctor if you should take your blood pressure medication on the day of your operation.
What Can Parents Do
Ask your doctor to measure your childs blood pressure starting at age 3. Helping children keep a healthy weight, eat nutritious foods, and get regular physical activity can lower their blood pressure and reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease later in life. Try these tips to help your child keep a healthy weight and normal blood pressure:
Food and Drinks
- Offer nutritious, lower-calorie foods such as fruits and vegetablesexternal icon in place of foods high in added sugars and solid fats. Try serving more fruits and vegetables at meals and as snacks.
- Provide foods that are low in sodium . Sodium raises blood pressure. Nearly 9 in 10 U.S. children eat more sodium than is recommended. Learn more about sodium.
- Make sure water is always available as a no-calorie alternative to sugary drinks, and limit juice.
- Help your child get the recommended amount of physical activity each day. Choose from many age-appropriate activities.
- Be aware of your childs growth. Learn how obesity is measured in children, and use CDCs Child and Teen BMI Calculator to screen your child for potential weight issues.
- Be a role model! Eat healthy meals and snacks, and get the right amount of physical activity every day.
- Help shape a healthy school environment using CDCs Parents for Healthy Schools resources.
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What Is A Pulmonary Hypertension
Abnormally elevated pressure in the pulmonary circulation is referred to as pulmonary hypertension. This condition affects the arteries in the lungs and the right side of the heart.
Pulmonary Hypertension Causes
Pulmonary hypertension is caused by changes in the cells that line the pulmonary arteries. These changes cause the walls of the arteries to become stiff and thick, extra tissue may also form. This can reduce or block blood flow through the blood vessels. Increased blood pressure is then caused because it is harder for blood to flow. Pulmonary hypertension can be an associated condition with scleroderma, sarcoidosis, pulmonary embolism, and dermatomyositis.
Pulmonary Hypertension Symptoms
Symptoms of pulmonary hypertension may not present themselves for months or years. Later on, symptoms become worse. Symptoms of pulmonary hypertension may include:
Atrial septostomy and transplantation are surgical treatments that may control pulmonary hypertension, if medications are unsuccessful.
Is A Blood Pressure Reading Always The Same
Blood pressure can be affected by many factors, including, but not limited to, the following:
The time of day. Blood pressures fluctuate during waking hours, and are lower during sleep.
Physical activity. Blood pressure is usually higher during and immediately after exercise, and lower at periods of rest.
Emotional moods and stress. Feelings such as fear, anger, or happiness can affect the blood pressure.
Age, height, weight, and gender. Each of these can affect blood pressure.
Other illnesses present or medications you are taking. Other illnesses, including kidney disease or heart disease, affect blood pressure, as can certain medications.
Children and adolescents may be anxious in a doctor’s office, not knowing what may happen. Your doctor is aware that any emotions related to visiting the clinic can affect blood pressure and may give falsely high readings.
Before determining that your child has high blood pressure, a doctor or nurse will take several readings when your child is calm.
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Secondary High Blood Pressure
Some cases of high blood pressure are the result of underlying factors or cause and this is known as secondary high blood pressure.
Underlying factors include:
- kidney conditions, such as a kidney infection, or kidney disease
- narrowing of the arteries
- hormonal conditions, such as Cushing’s syndrome
- conditions that affect the bodys tissue, such as lupus
- medication, such as the oral contraceptive pill, or the type of painkillers that are known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , such as ibuprofen
- recreational drugs, such as cocaine, amphetamines and crystal meth
Occasionally, a rise in blood pressure can result from taking herbal remedies, such as herbal supplements.
Monitor Your Blood Pressure Regularly
The best way to prevent complications and avoid problems is to recognize hypertension early.
Keep a log of your blood pressure readings and take it to your regular doctor appointments. This can help your doctor see any possible problems before the condition advances.
People with hypertension can deliver healthy babies despite having the condition. But it can be dangerous to both the birthing parent and baby if its not monitored closely and managed during the pregnancy.
People with high blood pressure who become pregnant are more likely to develop complications . For example, pregnant women with hypertension may experience decreased kidney function. Babies born to birthing parents with hypertension may have a low birth weight or be born prematurely.
Some people may develop hypertension during their pregnancies. Several types of high blood pressure problems can develop. The condition often reverses itself once the baby is born. Developing hypertension during pregnancy may increase your risk for developing hypertension later in life.
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