Why Do I Need A Blood Pressure Test
A blood pressure measurement is often included as part of a regular checkup. Adults 18 years and older should have their blood pressure measured at least once every two to five years. You should get tested every year if you have certain risk factors. You may be at higher risk if you:
- Are 40 years old or older
- Are overweight or have obesity
- Are Black/African American. Black/African Americans have a higher rate of high blood pressure than other racial and ethnic groups
You may need this test if you have symptoms of low blood pressure.
What Does The Diastolic Blood Pressure Number Mean
The diastolic reading, or the bottom number, is the pressure in the arteries when the heart rests between beats. This is the time when the heart fills with blood and gets oxygen.
This is what your diastolic blood pressure number means:
- Normal: Lower than 80
- Stage 2 hypertension: 90 or more
- Hypertensive crisis: 120 or more. Call 911.
Our chart below has more details.
Even if your diastolic number is normal , you can have elevated blood pressure if the systolic reading is 120-129.
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.
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Stroke And Brain Problems
High blood pressure can cause the arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the brain to burst or be blocked, causing a stroke. Brain cells die during a stroke because they do not get enough oxygen. Stroke can cause serious disabilities in speech, movement, and other basic activities. A stroke can also kill you.
Having high blood pressure, especially in midlife, is linked to having poorer cognitive function and dementia later in life. Learn more about the link between high blood pressure and dementia from the National Institutes of Healths Mind Your Risks®external icon campaign.
What You Do Can Make A Difference
There are many different things you can do to lower your high blood pressure in addition to making lifestyle changes. Check in regularly with your healthcare provider. He or she will monitor your blood pressure and make sure you are on track. Also, stay informed about your health by asking questions during your office visit. Here are some examples to help you get started:
- I hadnt been concerned about my blood pressure since it was below 140/90 mm Hg. Whats different now?
- Ive been doing well with my medication, but now my blood pressure is considered high based on the new guidelines. What do I need to do now?
- If Im at risk for heart disease, how does this affect my blood pressure treatment?
- What lifestyle changes would be good for lowering my blood pressure?
- How does sodium and salt affect my blood pressure? How much salt is safe for me to consume when I have high blood pressure?
- What foods and drinks should I avoid?
- How do I use my blood pressure cuff at home? How do I know if its accurate?
- Do I need to see a dietitian?
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What Should I Do If I Have High Blood Pressure
If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you and your healthcare provider will talk about your target blood pressure. Your provider may suggest that you:
- Check your own blood pressure regularly with a home blood pressure monitor. These electronic monitors are available at most pharmacies or online.
- Work on controlling anger and managing stress.
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 Do I Know If I Have High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure usually doesnt cause symptoms. The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure taken. Know your numbers so you can make the changes that help prevent or limit damage.
Your blood pressure reading has two numbers. The top number is the systolic, which measures the pressure on the blood vessel walls when your heart beats. The bottom number is the diastolic, which measures the pressure on your blood vessels between beats when the heart is at rest.
For example, a reading of 110/70 is within normal range for blood pressure 126/72 is an elevated blood pressure a reading of 135/85 is stage 1 hypertension, and so on .
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.
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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.
What Is A Blood Pressure Measurement
Each time your heart beats, it pumps blood into your arteries. A blood pressure measurement is a test that measures the force in your arteries as your heart pumps. Blood pressure is measured as two numbers:
- Systolic blood pressure measures pressure inside your arteries when the heart beats.
- Diastolic blood pressure measures the pressure inside the artery when the heart rests between beats.
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, affects tens of millions of adults in the United States. It increases the risk of life-threatening conditions including heart attack and stroke. But high blood pressure rarely causes symptoms. A blood pressure measurement helps diagnose high blood pressure early, so it may be treated before it leads to serious complications.
Other names: blood pressure reading, blood pressure test, blood pressure screening, sphygmomanometry
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What Does A Blood Pressure Reading Look Like
When you have your , you will be given two numbers, a top number and a bottom number.
- Systolic blood pressure. This is the first, or top, number. This is the highest level your blood pressure reaches when your heart beats, forcing blood around your body.
- Diastolic blood pressure. The second number, or bottom number, is the lowest level your blood pressure reaches as your heart relaxes between beats.
Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury . If the first number is 120 and the second number is 80, this would be written as 120/80mmHg, and youd call it 120 over 80.
This video explains more about systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Lowering High Diastolic Blood Pressure
Regardless of the cause, IDH should not be ignored. In many individuals, the systolic pressure will also become elevated over time. In the Framingham Heart Study, 83 percent of those with IDH developed mixed hypertension over the next 10 years.
Even if it doesnt progress, IDH itself increases the likelihood of serious cardiovascular complications. A study published in the March 2014 issue of the Journal of Hypertension noted that adults with IDH had double the risk of cardiovascular complications, including heart attacks, strokes or heart-related death, compared to normal-pressure adults.
from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association recommend treating all individuals with a diastolic pressure of 80 mmHg or greater, regardless of whether the person has IDH or mixed hypertension.
Strategies to lower blood pressure may include weight loss, dietary changes, exercise and medication. Reducing other risk factors for cardiovascular disease by controlling blood sugar and cholesterol levels is also important.
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Why Should I Monitor My Blood Pressure At Home
Even if your doctor takes your blood pressure in the clinic, monitoring your blood pressure at home can be useful whether or not you have hypertension.
It can tell you if your blood pressure is changing over time, which is important because your risk for hypertension increases as you age.
It can come in handy while youre exercising, and tell you if youre exercising at a healthy and safe intensity level.
If your doctor suspects that you have hypertension, it can give them a better sense of what your blood pressure is like on a normal basis.
If you have hypertension, it can help your doctor see if your treatment plan is working. Current guidelines recommend that patients with hypertension aim for a blood pressure lower than 130/80 mmHg, with the help of lifestyle changes and medications.
If you take blood pressure medications, it can be especially helpful if you experience symptoms like headaches or dizziness. Low blood pressure readings during those times can alert your doctor to adjust the dose of your medication or give you a different drug to try. No matter what, do not change how youre taking your medications without talking to your doctor. Call your doctor immediately if you find that your blood pressure is too high or too low, or if you experience symptoms like headaches, dizziness, or fainting.
What Are The Treatments For Low Blood Pressure
The treatments for low blood pressure depend on what caused the condition. Your doctor will work with you to address the cause of the hypotension. In severe cases of hypotension, your doctor may give you IV fluids to raise your blood pressure.
Depending on a variety of factors, such as your age and the type of hypotension, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following: dietary changes, lifestyle changes and/or medications.
To make dietary changes, your doctor might tell you to:
- Stay hydrated by drinking more water throughout the day.
- Drink less alcohol.
- Increase your salt intake slightly because sodium raises blood pressure.
- Eat smaller, healthy meals and limit carbohydrates.
You can take several steps to avoid a sudden drop in blood pressure. Your doctor may recommend that you make the following lifestyle changes:
- Wear compression stockings.
- Get up slowly after youve been sitting or lying down.
- Avoid standing for long periods of time.
- Sit up and breathe deeply for a few minutes before getting out of bed.
Your doctor might prescribe medications like:
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First What Are Systolic And Diastolic Blood Pressures
To know if your blood pressure is good or bad, youll first need to know about systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The top number of your blood pressure reading is your systolic blood pressure. Thats how much pressure is pushing on your blood vessel walls as your heart contracts and pumps out blood to your body. The bottom number is your diastolic blood pressure. That tells you the pressure on your blood vessel walls when your heart relaxes between contractions.
For example, 128/82 would be interpreted as a systolic blood pressure of 128 mmHg and a diastolic blood pressure of 82 mmHg. If your blood vessels are healthy, they will stretch to make room for the blood that is pumped through them. However, if your blood vessels are stiff, the blood flowing through them will be under greater pressure, and that means your blood pressure numbers will be higher.
Low Blood Pressure Chart
Considering low blood pressure chart in context of women, for men, during pregnancy and by age
Low blood pressure is defined as blood pressure that is below the normal expected for a person in a given environment. You may look at the blood pressure definition for a broader definition of blood pressure. The following low blood pressure chart is applicable to adult men and women. This is because both adult male and females are expected to have a similar normal blood pressure on average of 120/80mmHg.
This chart in discussion here may not be efficiently applicable on children because infants and children specifically have significantly lower blood pressure compared to adult men and women.
High blood pressure which is also known as hypertension is often presented with the aid of a high blood pressure chart showing the various stages of hypertension congruent with particular blood pressure numbers. Several challenges present when attempting to do the same for low blood pressure in the form of a low blood pressure chart.
Chief among these challenges is the widely agreed and understood relativity of a low blood pressure condition. The chart above summarizes known data of low blood pressure readings in some individuals and accompanying symptoms of low blood pressure.
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Limit Saturated And Trans Fats
The AHA recommend that people limit their daily intake of saturated fats. According to the AHA, saturated fats should make up no more than of a 2000 calorie-per-day diet.
The also recommend avoiding trans fats, which can increase bad cholesterol levels while decreasing good cholesterol levels. Like high blood pressure, trans fats increase a persons chances of developing heart disease and stroke.
Maintain A Healthy Weight
Having overweight or obesity increases strain on the heart muscle and can lead to a rise in blood pressure.
. If a persons BMI is too high, they should take steps to reduce their weight.
According to the , a loss of just 10 pounds in weight is enough to reduce blood pressure readings in people who have overweight.
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How Serious Is Your Hypertension
Doctors classify hypertension according to systolic pressure and diastolic pressure readings and the effects various levels can have on your health.
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a health condition that affects about one in three American adults. But not everyone who has hypertension has high blood pressure to the same degree. Doctors use four hypertension categories to help classify how likely your blood pressure level is to affect your health: prehypertension, stage 1, stage 2, and hypertensive crisis.
Normal Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is measured by taking two different measurements of the pressure within your arteries: systolic pressure and diastolic pressure. Systolic pressure, the first or top number of the blood pressure reading, is the highest level of pressure in your arteries, which occurs when your heart muscle contracts and forces a burst of blood into the aorta. Diastolic pressure, which is the bottom number, is the pressure that exists within your arteries between heart muscle contractions, which is when your heart is filling with blood.
If your blood pressure reading is less than 120/80 millimeters of mercury or mm Hg , you have normal blood pressure. This means that your systolic pressure is less than 120 mm/Hg and your diastolic reading is less than 80 mm/Hg.
Prehypertension: When Blood Pressure Is Above Normal
Stage 1 and Stage 2 Hypertension
Hypertensive Crisis: A High Blood Pressure Emergency
Complications Of Isolated Systolic Hypertension
When high blood pressure isnt managed, it can cause damage to your arteries. This can affect many parts of your body and increase your risk of:
- Heart attack. Elevated blood pressure can damage your coronary arteries, which increases the risk of a blockage in one of your hearts arteries.
- Stroke. Untreated high blood pressure can damage or weaken the arteries in your brain, which increases the risk of an ischemic stroke, hemorrhagic stroke, and transient ischemic attack .
- Heart failure. Elevated blood pressure can weaken the muscles of your heart, causing them to become too weak to pump blood efficiently to the rest of your body.
- Aneurysm. High blood pressure can weaken part of an artery, causing it to bulge out and possibly rupture.
- Kidney disease. The blood vessels in your kidneys can become damaged by untreated high blood pressure, resulting in your kidneys being unable to effectively filter toxins out of your blood.
- Vision loss. Damage to the blood vessels in your eyes can lead to bleeding in the retina and loss of sight.
- Dementia.Dementia or vascular dementia can occur when oxygen-rich blood flow to your brain is reduced.
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