Home Blood Pressure Monitoring
Your doctor may recommend you take measurements yourself while at home. This may help them understand how your blood pressure changes throughout the day or how its responding to treatment.
Some pharmacies offer blood pressure checks too.
What Are Common Symptoms Of Hypertension
Hypertension is called a “silent killer”. Most people with hypertension are unaware of the problem because it may have no warning signs or symptoms. For this reason, it is essential that blood pressure is measured regularly.
When symptoms do occur, they can include early morning headaches, nosebleeds, irregular heart rhythms, vision changes, and buzzing in the ears. Severe hypertension can cause fatigue, nausea, vomiting, confusion, anxiety, chest pain, and muscle tremors.
The only way to detect hypertension is to have a health professional measure blood pressure. Having blood pressure measured is quick and painless. Although individuals can measure their own blood pressure using automated devices, an evaluation by a health professional is important for assessment of risk and associated conditions.
How Is Blood Pressure Measured
Blood pressure is measured by a blood pressure cuff . The blood pressure cuff consists of an air pump, a pressure gauge, and a rubber cuff. The instrument measures the blood pressure in units called millimeters of mercury .
The cuff is placed around the upper arm and inflated with an air pump to a pressure that blocks the flow of blood in the main artery that travels through the arm. The arm is held at the side of the body at the level of the heart, and the pressure of the cuff is gradually released. As the pressure decreases, a health practitioner listens with a stethoscope over the artery at the front of the elbow or an electronic machine senses the pulsation. The pressure at which the practitioner first hears a pulsation from the artery is the systolic pressure . As the cuff pressure decreases further, the pressure at which the pulsation finally stops is the diastolic pressure .
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What Are The Complications Of Uncontrolled Hypertension
- Chest pain, also called angina.
- Heart attack, which occurs when the blood supply to the heart is blocked and heart muscle cells die from lack of oxygen. The longer the blood flow is blocked, the greater the damage to the heart.
- Heart failure, which occurs when the heart cannot pump enough blood and oxygen to other vital body organs.
- Irregular heart beat which can lead to a sudden death.
Can High Blood Pressure Affect Pregnancy
High blood pressure complicates about 10% of all pregnancies. There are several different types of high blood pressure during pregnancy and they range from mild to serious. The forms of high blood pressure during pregnancy include:
Chronic hypertension: High blood pressure which is present before pregnancy.
Gestational hypertension: High blood pressure in the latter part of pregnancy.
Preeclampsia: This is a dangerous condition that typically develops in the latter half of pregnancy and results in hypertension, protein in the urine and generalized swelling in the pregnant person. It can affect other organs in the body and cause seizures .
Chronic hypertension with superimposed preeclampsia: Pregnant people who have chronic hypertension are at increased risk for developing preeclampsia.
Your provider will check your blood pressure regularly during prenatal appointments, but if you have concerns about your blood pressure, be sure to talk with your provider.
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Eat More Potassium And Less Sodium
Increasing your potassium intake and cutting back on salt can also lower your blood pressure .
Potassium is a double winner: It lessens the effects of salt in your system and eases tension in your blood vessels. However, diets rich in potassium may be harmful to people with kidney disease, so talk with your doctor before increasing your potassium intake.
Its easy to eat more potassium. So many foods are naturally high in potassium. Here are a few:
- other processed snacks
Foods labeled low fat are usually high in salt and sugar to compensate for the loss of fat. Fat is what gives food taste and makes you feel full.
Cutting down on or even better, cutting out processed food will help you eat less salt, less sugar, and fewer refined carbohydrates. All of this can result in lower blood pressure.
Make it a practice to check nutrition labels. According to the Food and Drug Administration , a sodium listing of 5 percent or less on a food label is considered low, while 20 percent or more is considered high (
Do Regular Physical Activity
Regular aerobic exercise reduces blood pressure. The reductions are greater for people who start with higher blood pressure. Even relatively small increases in physical activity have been shown to lower blood pressure.
- People aged 18-64 years should do a total of 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate-intensity activity or 1.25 to 2.5 hours of vigorous activity every week. You can achieve this in shorter periods of activity. Moderate-intensity activity includes brisk walking, golf, swimming and mowing the lawn. Vigorous activity includes jogging, aerobics, soccer, netball or fast cycling.
- People aged 18-64 years should also do muscle strengthening exercises at least 2 days per week, such as squats, lunges, pull-ups, push-ups, lifting weights, carrying things or digging. When doing resistance exercises, its important to breathe normally and not hold your breath since this raises blood pressure.
- People aged 65 and older should aim for some physical activity every week preferably 30 minutes of moderate intensity on most days. Any activity is better than none, and you can gradually build up to the target total.
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Try These Medicinal Herbs
Herbal medicines have long been used in many cultures to treat a variety of ailments.
Some herbs have even been shown to possibly lower blood pressure. However, more research is needed to identify the doses and components in the herbs that are most useful.
Always check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking herbal supplements. They may interfere with your prescription medications.
Heres a partial list of plants and herbs that are used by cultures throughout the world to lower blood pressure:
- black bean
- river lily
- Avoid daytime naps.
- Make your bedroom comfortable.
The 2010 national Sleep Heart Health Study found that regularly sleeping fewer than 7 hours a night and more than 9 hours a night was associated with an increased rate of high blood pressure.
Regularly sleeping fewer than 5 hours a night was linked to a significant risk of high blood pressure long term .
What Are The Symptoms Of Mild Hypertension
Hypertension at any stage is known as the silent killer because it usually doesnt present symptoms. It can go undetected until a heart-related event occurs. Unless you have your blood pressure checked regularly, you may be living with undiagnosed stage 1 hypertension for years and it could progress.
Mild hypertension can easily be reversed, so having it go undetected puts you at a very serious risk for health complications as it could progress to irreversible hypertension.
If symptoms do arise, they may consist of headaches, shortness of breath, dizzy spells, and more frequent nosebleeds.
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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.
Hypertension And Dizziness And What You Can Do
As someone with hypertension, you might be familiar with the debilitating symptoms like dizzying spells. You likely experience it whenever your blood pressure levels fluctuate. While its generally harmless, it can increase your risk for accidents or injuries. Learning how to stop dizziness naturallymight come in extra handy in preventing hazards and ensuring your safety while moving around.
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First Aid For High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure , also known as hypertension, is exactly what the name suggests. It is a high reading of blood pressure that is equal to or more than 130/80.
Having hypertension puts you at incredible risk for stroke and heart attack, which makes it important that you know how to apply first aid for high blood pressure.
Hypertension How It Can Affect You
Having high blood pressure can be pretty worrying. Thats because sometimes, it doesnt have any apparent signs. The worst part is that it can quickly result in other complications if you leave it unattended for a long time.
Unfortunately, according to CDCs latest reports, hypertension is a severe health problem that affects about 50 percent of the US population. CDC further explains that only 25 percent have complete control of their high blood pressure problems. Hypertension, especially the malignant type, causes various symptoms that usually include dizziness or lightheadedness, vertigo attacks, and loss of balance. These disorienting symptoms rarely occur until the condition has already progressed.
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High Blood Pressure In Older People
The target blood pressure reading for the over-80s is below 150/90 mmHg when it’s measured in the clinic or surgery, and below 145/85 mmHg for home readings.
While there are definite benefits from taking medicines to reduce blood pressure if you’re under the age of 80, it’s less clear it’s useful if you’re over 80.
It’s now thought that if you reach 80 while you’re taking medicine for high blood pressure, it’s fine to continue treatment provided it’s still helping you and is not causing side effects.
If you’re diagnosed with high blood pressure and you’re aged over 80, your doctor will also consider your other health risk factors when deciding whether to give you treatment for the high blood pressure.
Page last reviewed: 23 October 2019 Next review due: 23 October 2022
What Medication Is Prescribed To Treat High Blood Pressure
Once diagnosed with high blood pressure, you and your doctor will discuss the best treatment options. If your doctor decides to prescribe you with a medication, it can be comforting to understand the different types of blood pressure medication available and what each of them do.
Each class of medications is accompanied by possible side effects and your doctor will work to determine which medication is right for you.
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Reduce Your Sodium Intake
Itâs a prime offender in raising blood pressure. The American Heart Association recommends that people with hypertension keep it under 1,500 milligrams a day. Check your food labels to see how much youâre getting. If you cut back gradually, youâre less likely to notice the difference. Limiting sodium to just 2,400 milligrams per day can lower your number 2 to 8 points.
One way to cut back is to prepare your food at home. Seventy-five percent of your sodium intake comes from eating out and packaged foods. Use more spices for flavor instead of salt. Eating more potassium helps move sodium out of your body. A small effort can bring blood pressure down as much as two to eight points.
Ways to cut out sneaky salt and add healthy flavor:
- Read labels. Look for “salt,” “sodium,” “sea salt,” and “kosher salt.”
- Rinse salty canned food such as beans or tuna before using it.
- Substitute herbs and spices for sodium and salt when cooking.
- Avoid instant or flavored side dishes, which usually have a lot of added sodium. Instead, try cooking plain rice, pasta, or grains without adding salt. You can add other flavorings or a bit of salt when you serve them.
- Look for “low sodium” on food labels.
Should I Be Eating Certain Foods To Control My Blood Pressure
The DASH eating plan is the most often-used dietary method of reducing high blood pressure. Using DASH, your overall diet should be rich in nutrients including potassium, calcium, magnesium and fibre, while being low in sodium, saturated fat and total fat.
This eating plan suggests that you:
- enjoy at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables every day
- choose at least 2 servings of lower-fat dairy products each day
- choose whole grain breads, cereals and baked goods
- limit the salt and condiments that you add to your food, both at the table and while cooking
- limit eating greasy snack foods, regular soft drinks, candy and other high-sugar, high-fat and salty snack foods
- eat fats such as canola and olive oil, peanut butter and nuts, but keep the quantities small.
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You Just Received A High Blood Pressure Reading Now What
Youre probably fairly used to the process of getting your blood pressure checked on virtually every visit to your doctors office. You sit down in a chair, are told how to position your arm and you sit and wait as the cuff gives your arm a good squeeze. Usually, the nurse recites off two numbers, records them in your file and says everything is good to go. Maybe you do the same for yourself with an at-home blood pressure machine and every so often measure your blood pressure to ensure it stays within the normal range. So, what happens when you check your blood pressure one day and you have a high reading?
Dr. Iva Smolens, cardiac surgeon at Banner Heart Hospital, explains that if you perform an isolated, one-time blood pressure reading that indicates , you should have it checked with your doctor within the week. Dr. Smolens further explains that a high blood pressure diagnosis is likely to be made after you and your doctor find that your blood pressure is high more than 3 times within the week. If this occurs, you should check with your doctor for consultation options.
Follow A Healthy Diet
- Eat 5 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruit every day.
- Limit your fat intake to 20 to 35% of your total energy intake. Consume healthy unsaturated fats instead of saturated fats.
- Reduce your salt intake to fewer than 4 grams per day if you have high blood pressure. This is less than one teaspoon of salt. Salt contains sodium, which is linked to high blood pressure.
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What Are Other Ways I Can Lower My Blood Pressure
In addition to taking medicine to control your blood pressure, you can take other steps to help keep your blood pressure levels healthy.
- Get regular physical activity. Staying physically active is one of the best things you can do for your health. Physical activity helps keep your heart and blood vessels strong. It also can help you keep a healthy weight.
- Do not smoke. Smoking damages your blood vessels and greatly increases your risk of not only high blood pressure but also heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
- Eat healthy foods. Choosing healthy meal and snack options can help you avoid high blood pressure and its complications. Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Keep a healthy weight. Having overweight or obesity means your heart must work harder to pump blood and oxygen around the body. Staying at a healthy weight reduces the stress on your heart and reduces your risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
Blood Pressure And Ageing
With advancing years, the arteries tend to become more rigid . This may change a persons blood pressure pattern, with a higher systolic pressure and a lower diastolic pressure. The higher systolic pressure is important because it can further accelerate the rigidity of the arteries. This state is referred to as isolated systolic hypertension. Although these changes are due to ageing, this is not a normal state and may need medication to control the systolic pressures.
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Dizziness In Hypertensive Patients
Because dizziness is such a general term, patients often use it to describe various disorienting symptoms, including vertigo episodes and loss of balance. A study notes that patients who experience dizziness because of high blood pressure also experience additional symptoms like:
- Anxiety, panic, or depression
Sometimes, the dizziness brought by hypertension can impact daily activities. This is especially true when the vertigo attacks worsen with movement. When not appropriately managed, such dizzying symptoms can pose risks for injuries due to tripping or slipping. If you think you have hypertension or if your dizziness or vertigo attacks stem from high blood pressure, dont hesitate to call your primary health care doctor.
How Common Is High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a common condition, it is estimated that 18% of adult men and 13% of adult women have high blood pressure but are not getting treatment for it.
In 90-95% of cases, there is no single identifiable reason for a rise in blood pressure. But all available evidence shows that lifestyle plays a significant role in regulating your blood pressure.
Risk factors for high blood pressure include:
- poor diet
- being overweight
- excessive alcohol consumption.
Also, for reasons not fully understood, people of Afro-Caribbean and South Asian origin are more likely to develop high blood pressure than other ethnic groups.
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