Scary Blood Pressure Reading Here’s What To Do
Scary blood pressure readings happen. It can be shocking when you get a high reading, and it can be even more terrifying if the reading is low. When this happens, though, it’s essential to know what your next steps should be. On this page, we will discuss some of the most common causes for a high or low blood pressure reading and how to deal with them so you can get back to living life without worrying about your health!
What Is Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the force applied by the blood over the inner walls of the arteries. Although the average blood pressure for a person remains constant, it shows minor fluctuations throughout the daydeclining while relaxing and momentarily increasing while being excited or under stress. An increase in the resting blood pressure can scar, stiffen, or harden the arteries.
Blood pressure is written as systolic and diastolic values. Hence, BP 120/80 mm Hg means 120 is the systolic number, and 80 is the diastolic number.
Preventing High Blood Pressure
To keep your blood pressure in the normal range, your daily habits are key. These things help:
Donât smoke. Among the many health problems that smoking causes, it raises your blood pressure.
Make physical activity a habit. Most experts recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity five or more times a week. Or you could do a harder activity for a shorter period of time per session.
Eat right. Read food labels to see how much sodium is in a serving. Check with your doctor to find out what your daily limit should be. Include a lot of vegetables and fruits, along with whatever else you choose to put on your plate.
Stick to a healthy weight. Extra pounds raise your blood pressure. If youâre not sure what a healthy weight would be for you, ask your doctor.
Get enough sleep. For most adults, thatâs 7-8 hours of sleep per night, on a regular basis.
If you drink alcohol, limit it to no more than one drink a day if youâre a woman and up to two drinks a day if youâre a man.
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What Is A Normal Blood Pressure Reading
The ideal blood pressure should be below 120 and over 80 and most UK adults have blood pressure in the range 120 over 80 to 140 over 90 .
The higher number is the systolic pressure, which is the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body.
The lower number is the diastolic pressure, the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels.
You can request a blood pressure reading at your local GP as it hardly takes nay time, just a few minutes.
Blood pressure is measured with an instrument called a sphygmomanometer.
A cuff is placed around your arm and inflated with a pump until the circulation is cut off.
Afterwards a small valve slowly deflates the cuff, giving the doctor a chance to measure the blood pressure.
What Exactly Is Blood Pressure
“Blood pressure is the pressure that exists within our arteries and drives blood throughout our body,” says Dr. Del Conde Pozzi. At normal levels, your heart creates just enough blood pressure to pump blood to vital organs like your eyes and kidneys without damaging your arteries over time.
If your blood pressure is elevated, though this hinders blood flow over time and can cause organ damage, hardening of your arteries, and plaque buildup within your arteries. These changes narrow and stiffen your arteries, increasing the risk of blood clots, heart disease, stroke, heart attack, and kidney disease, per the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention .
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Choosing A Home Blood Pressure Monitor
The American Heart Association recommends an automatic, cuff-style, bicep monitor.
- Wrist and finger monitors are not recommended because they yield less reliable readings.
- Choose a monitor that has been validated. If you are unsure, ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice or find options at validatebp.org.
- When selecting a blood pressure monitor for a senior, pregnant woman or child, make sure it is validated for these conditions.
- Make sure the cuff fits measure around your upper arm and choose a monitor that comes with the correct size cuff.
Choosing A Blood Pressure Monitor
If you’re planning to take your blood pressure at home, it’s important to have a reliable blood pressure monitor. The AHA recommends an automatic, cuff-style, bicep monitor, but there are other options.
When selecting a blood pressure monitor, consider the following:
- Fit: To ensure a proper fit, measure around your upper arm and choose a monitor that comes with the correct size cuff.
- Number of people: If more than one person will be using the monitor, make sure to choose one that fits everyone.
- Features: Some blood pressure monitors offer extra tech features, like Bluetooth and app connectivity. If you don’t think you’ll benefit from these extras, go ahead and choose one that is efficient, easy to use, and more affordable.
- Budget: High-quality blood pressure monitors vary dramatically in price, from around $25 to well over $100. Keep in mind that a good monitor is a great investment and that you will be using it daily for several years.
- Other considerations: The AHA notes that when selecting a blood pressure monitor for a senior, pregnant person, or child, you should make sure it is validated for these conditions.
If you need help selecting an at-home device, check out these blood pressure monitors, which were vetted by the Verywell team based on the above criteria.
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Does Normal Blood Pressure Change With Age
Just as our blood pressure readings change according to our posture, sleep time, and stress levels throughout the day, our blood pressure changes as we age. Despite the fluctuating or changing measurements, we should maintain a normal range. As we age, we can expect changes in our cardiovascular health, including our blood pressure and cholesterol levels. There are several factors that reflect our blood pressure levels over the years, including normal blood pressure for seniors.
Is Checking Your Blood Pressure Two To Three Times Too Often
Checking your blood pressure two to three times is not too often and recommended by the American College of Cardiology. They recommend taking at least two readings, one minute apart in the morning before taking medications and in the evening before dinner.
This is the general recommendation but depending on your condition, your physician may prefer something else. Always follow the recommendation of your doctor as every patients situation may differ 2.
Measuring your blood pressure all day long or more than recommended by the physician is unnecessary. Your pressure will fluctuate throughout the day, and the readings are going to differ. It doesnt make any sense and is counterproductive. Doing so can also play on your mind and cause undesired stress. Do yourself a favor and take it when youre supposed to.
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How To Prevent High Blood Pressure
The good news is there are several things you can start doing now to prevent high blood pressure. This includes eating a healthy diet rich in foods that are good for your heart. Some of these foods include fish that contains omega-3 fatty acids, leafy greens, berries, oats, and more!
Other ways to help prevent high blood pressure include maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, watching your salt intake, quitting smoking, reducing stress, and consuming alcohol in moderation.
Can I Take Multiple Blood Pressure Readings In A Row
Many times the first blood pressure reading is higher than the subsequent readings 1. There are many reasons why this may happen which you can read about in my blog post, First Blood Pressure Reading Always High. Its one of the reasons why measuring two to three times is ideal. Only taking it once increases the chances for an inaccurate diagnosis of your pressure.
The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association recommends 2-3 measurements for a medical staff and for you at home 2. Some of the home monitors can be programmed to do this automatically. One of the three monitors I recommend, the Omron 10 series, is one of those monitors. Check it out and the other two in my blog post, Home Blood Pressure Monitors.
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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 .
The higher your blood pressure levels, the more risk you have for other health problems, such as heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
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.
What Are The Causes Of High Blood Pressure
Elevated blood pressure increases your risk of chronic high blood pressure as you age. Taking steps to manage your blood pressure helps decrease this risk.
There are also some health conditions that increase your risks of chronic high blood pressure, including obesity and diabetes. Other causes include:
- Genetics/family history
- Lack of exercise
- Alcohol or tobacco abuse
As adults age, their odds of high blood pressure increase, with 90% of Americans forecasted to develop high blood pressure in their lifetimes. Black people tend to develop high blood pressure more often and earlier in life compared to white people. Hispanics, Asians, American Indians, and Pacific Islanders also stand an increased risk of high blood pressure compared to other ethnicities.
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What Is The Best Treatment For High Blood Pressure
Depending on your high blood pressure, lifestyle changes and/or medications may be helpful in maintaining a healthy and normal blood pressure. Some common lifestyle recommendations include:
What Does It Mean To Have Low Blood Pressure
Generally, low blood pressure or hypotension means that your blood pressure falls under 90 mm Hg systolic and 60 mm Hg diastolic. However, this should be assessed on an individual basis.
Some people have low blood pressure with no health problems, while others could have an underlying condition in need of treatment, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute . Other factors that can lead to high blood pressure include:
- Certain medications for anxiety, depression, pain, or surgery
- Conditions like diabetes, heart failure, or an abnormal heart rhythm
If you or someone else has low blood pressure and passes out, call 911 or seek medical attention immediately. Dangerous dips in blood pressure deprive organs of oxygen and can lead to shock, a medical emergency.
If you have symptoms such as black stools, dizziness, blurred vision, chest pain, shortness of breath, or a fever above 101°F , call your doctor ASAP, according to MedlinePlus.
Treatment for low blood pressure involves addressing the root cause such as taking medication for an underlying condition or adjusting your current treatment plan to avoid this side effect, says Dr. Wong.
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What Is Normal Blood Pressure According To Age
Blood pressure is the pressure of the blood within the arteries. It is produced primarily by the contraction of the heart muscle. Its measurement is recorded by two numbers. The first is measured after the heart contracts and is highest. The second is measured before the heart contracts and the lowest. A blood pressure cuff is used to measure the pressure. Elevation of blood pressure is called “hypertension“.
The chart shows normal blood pressure according to age both male and female. Diastolic blood pressure and Systolic Blood Pressure are included in the chart.
Normal Blood Pressure By Age
What Are The Symptoms Of Hypertension
High blood pressure can present a serious risk of heart attacks and strokes if left untreated.
Some symptoms can include severe headaches, fatigue or confusion, vision problems and chest pains.
Sufferers of high blood pressure could also experience difficulty breathing, an irregular heartbeat, blood in the urine and pounding in the chest, neck, or ears.
If you feel any of these symptoms, its best to get it checked with your GP.
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What Is Normal Blood Pressure For Women
Did you know high blood pressure is common among women? Especially for women in their 40s, 50s, and 60s. In fact, women who have gone through menopause are at an even greater risk.
Health Harvard explains, By the time they reach their 60s and 70s, 70% of women have high blood pressure. After age 75, that figure rises to nearly 80%, according to the CDC. This is why prevention is so important! Here are the normal blood pressure readings for women by age:
- Age 18-29
- Age 40-59
- Age 60+
Monitoring Your Blood Pressure
In order to know your resting blood pressure, you need to learn how to check and monitor it regularly. You can use an electronic blood pressure monitor that consists of an inflatable cuff. You have to wrap this to your upper arm while an electronic monitor attached to the cuff will give a digital readout of the pulse and blood pressure.
Your systolic blood pressure number is the upper reading and is always said first. If you have 120/80, it will be said that your systolic blood pressure is 120 and diastolic blood pressure is 80. Together, it reads as “120 over 80”. Your blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury .
How Often Should Blood Pressure Be Checked?
If your blood pressure is normal, you should go for a check-up at least once every five years. Your blood pressure is likely to increase if you are in your old age. For blood pressure that is borderline high, systolic blood pressure between 120 and 139 or diastolic blood pressure between 80 and 89, you should check your blood pressure once every year, or as per your doctor’s advice. If your blood pressure is 140/90, you need to talk to your doctor and work as per their instructions.
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What Is A Normal Reading
According to the American Heart Association , a normal blood pressure range is lower than 120/80 millimeters of mercury . When a persons blood pressure is higher than the normal range, they may have elevated blood pressure or hypertension.
A persons blood pressure can also drop too low. A lower than normal blood pressure can also lead to health issues.
If it drops too low, a person may feel faint, lightheaded, or dizzy. If a person has consistently low readings, they should talk to their doctor.
There are five categories of blood pressure:
What Does High Blood Pressure Feel Like
High blood pressure often doesn’t have any symptoms, so you usually don’t feel it.
Hypertension is usually diagnosed by a health care professional during a routine checkup. The average person should get a blood pressure reading at least once a year. As a cardiologist, I think its important for everyone to know their numbers. That means knowing what your blood pressure is. And it also means knowing your blood sugar level, cholesterol and body mass index. When you know your numbers, you can work with your doctor to make a plan to reduce any risks.
Blood pressure is even more important to pay attention to, though, if you have a close relative with hypertension or other risk factors. And know that if your blood pressure is extremely high, you may have unusually severe headaches, chest pain, difficulty breathing or get easily worn out by workouts. If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor right away.
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What Happens During A Blood Pressure Check
To measure your blood pressure, your doctor or nurse will put a cuff around your upper arm and inflate it, essentially cutting off blood flow in the brachial artery carrying blood from your shoulder to your elbow.
Next, the provider slowly releases this pressure, which lets blood flow back into your artery. He or she listens to this blood flow via a stethoscope, and also watches the pressure reading on a gauge attached to the cuff. This gauge indicates the pressure in the artery in units of millimeters of mercury .
Your blood pressure reading includes two numbers. The first, or top, number is the systolic pressure, which reflects the force of your blood inside your arteries when your heart muscle contracts. The number is recorded when the first heartbeat is heard through the stethoscope.
The second, or bottom number, is your diastolic pressure, which shows what happens in your artery between heartbeatsthe degree to which your artery relaxes and opens to allow the heart muscle to refill with blood. The number is recorded the moment the heartbeat becomes too quiet to hear.