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What To Do When Your Blood Pressure Is High

What Is A Normal Blood Pressure

How High Is Too High For Blood Pressure? Cardiologist Explains

Both the American Heart Association and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force have published guidelines for defining healthy and elevated blood pressure. You can follow either guidelines, depending on what you and your doctor agree is acceptable.

USPSTF Guidelines for Blood Pressure
Normal Systolic: Less than 120 mm Hg Diastolic:Less than 80 mm Hg
Elevated Diastolic: < Less than 80 mm Hg
AHA Guidelines for Blood Pressure
Normal Systolic: Less than 120 mm Hg Diastolic: Less than 80 mm Hg
Elevated Diastolic: Less than 80 mm Hg
High Blood Pressure Stage 1 Systolic: 130-139 mm Hg
High Blood Pressure Stage 2 Systolic: 140 mm Hg or higher Diastolic: 90 mm Hg or higher
Hypertensive Crisis Systolic: Higher than 180 mm Hg Diastolic: Higher than 120 mm Hg

Benefits Of Aerobic Exercise

One of the best types of exercise for your heart regardless of your sex, age, or weight is aerobic exercise. Aerobic activity affects your heart, lungs, and blood flow in the following ways:

  • You breathe faster and more deeply, maximizing the amount of oxygen in your blood.
  • Your heart beats faster, increasing blood flow to your muscles and back to your lungs.
  • Your capillaries widen to deliver more oxygen to your muscles.

How does this help your heart? For one thing, it strengthens your heart and causes adaptations in your muscles. When your heart is stronger and your muscles are more fit, your heart doesnt need to beat as fast at rest. It also pumps blood more efficiently, improving blood flow throughout your entire body.

Aerobic exercise can also help you lose and maintain weight, as well as reduce your blood pressure. It can help keep your arteries clear by reducing levels of bad cholesterol , or low-density lipoprotein, in your blood. It also helps elevate levels of good cholesterol, or high-density lipoprotein. This can lead to less plaque buildup in your arteries.

In total, the effect of regular moderate exercise on your overall cardiovascular risk can be dramatic.

AHA encourages men to get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week. You can break this activity into five 30-minute sessions. Or you can exercise more frequently in shorter sessions of 10 to 15 minutes.

Treating For Multiple Conditions

The type of blood pressure medication your doctor prescribes may depend on what other health problems you have. For example, if you have coronary artery disease and high blood pressure, your doctor may prescribe a beta-blocker. If you have had a myocardial infarction due to CAD, a beta-blocker can lower your blood pressure and decrease your overall risk of death.

If you have diabetes, your doctor may choose an ACE inhibitor or an ARB. Thats because these drugs can help protect the kidneys from diabetic damage by lowering the blood pressure in your kidneys.

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What To Do If Blood Pressure Is High

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When your blood pressure raises higher than normal, this can be harmful to the blood flow of your cardiovascular system if left untreated. If your blood flow is affected or doesnt run as well as it should, this would have an effect to the nutrients and oxygen supply to the cells /tissues of your body. So, it is important to control blood pressure at its normal levels. But when it is high, what you should do?

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What Is High Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is recorded with 2 numbers. The systolic pressure is the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body.

The diastolic pressure is the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels.

They’re both measured in millimetres of mercury .

As a general guide:

  • high blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher
  • ideal blood pressure is usually considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg

Blood pressure readings between 120/80mmHg and 140/90mmHg could mean you’re at risk of developing high blood pressure if you do not take steps to keep your blood pressure under control.

Everyone’s blood pressure will be slightly different. What’s considered low or high for you may be normal for someone else.

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.

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Youre Experiencing Symptoms Of Extremely High Blood Pressure But Cant Measure Your Blood Pressure

A lot of the guides we see explaining when to go to the emergency room for high blood pressure seem to assume that the average person has a manual sphygmomanometer the familiar blood pressure measurement device with a pump and cuff or digital blood pressure reader at home. In reality, these arent typical household appliances.

While you can check your pulse manually with your fingers, you cant check your blood pressure without a blood pressure device. Apps are also notoriously unreliable.

If you are experiencing the symptoms of a hypertensive crisis but dont have a blood pressure monitor, go to the ER anyway. This is especially true if you know you often have elevated blood pressure or match certain risk factors such as diabetes, lack of exercise, unhealthy diet, regular alcohol or tobacco use, or a genetic history of hypertension in your family.

Maintain A Healthy Weight

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If you are overweight, even a modest reduction in weight can reduce blood pressure. For example, losing 5 kilograms has been shown to reduce systolic blood pressure by around 7mmHg.

  • Keep your body mass index in the healthy weight range.
  • Your waist circumference should be less than 94 centimetres for men, less than 90cm for Asian men, and less than 80cm for women.

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Learning To Cope With Stress Can Help

Stress and hypertension have often been linked, but researchers are still looking into a direct relationship between the two. Still, the best advice to hypertensive patients: Try to relax.

When you are stressed, your body sends stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol into the bloodstream. These hormones create a temporary spike in blood pressure, causing your heart to beat faster and blood vessels to narrow. When the stressful situation is over, blood pressure goes back to its normal level.

Chronic stress, however, may cause your body to stay in this highly-charged state longer than natural.

While stress itself may or may not affect blood pressure, how you cope with stress does. For instance, overeating, smoking and drinking alcohol in response to stressful situations are direct causes of sustained high blood pressure. On the flip side, healthier coping mechanisms like exercising, practicing yoga and meditating can all help lower blood pressure.

What Can I Expect If I Have This Condition

Since high blood pressure doesnt cause many symptoms at first, you probably wont feel any different with a high blood pressure diagnosis. But its important to follow your providers instructions to bring your blood pressure down so it doesnt cause serious illnesses later in life.

How long does high blood pressure last?

If you have primary high blood pressure, youll need to control it for the rest of your life.

If you have secondary high blood pressure, your blood pressure will most likely come down after you receive treatment for the medical problem that caused it. If a medication caused your high blood pressure, switching to a different medicine may lower your blood pressure.

What is the outlook for high blood pressure?

You can get seriously ill if you dont treat your high blood pressure. However, if you take the medicines your provider ordered, you can control your blood pressure. Exercising and eating healthy foods also helps lower your blood pressure.

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High Blood Pressure Drug Treatment Plans

For most people, the first-choice medication for high blood pressure is a thiazide diuretic. For other people, a diuretic alone is not enough to control blood pressure. In these cases, a diuretic may be combined with a beta-blocker, ACE inhibitor, angiotensin II receptor blocker, or calcium channel blocker. Adding a second medication may lower your blood pressure more quickly than using a diuretic alone. Also, it allows you to take less of each medication, which may reduce side effects.

Youre Experiencing Regular High Blood Pressure At 20+ Weeks Pregnant

Even slightly elevated blood pressure increases dementia risk

Many moms-to-be experience slightly elevated blood pressure while pregnant, a condition called gestational hypertension. However, blood pressure readings of 140/90, especially after 20 weeks of pregnancy, can point to a pregnancy complication called preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is thought to be caused by abnormalities in the extra blood vessels that develop to send blood to the placenta. Left untreated, it can lead to serious health complications for both baby and mother, including preterm birth.

To monitor for preeclampsia, your doctor should measure your blood pressure regularly during your prenatal checkups and check for excess protein in your urine . While preeclampsia can develop slowly, it can also onset suddenly. If you are monitoring your blood pressure at home and notice levels regularly above 140/90 OR if you are experiencing symptoms such as severe headaches or changes in vision, contact your doctor immediately and go to the emergency room.

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Consider Taking Vitamins And Supplements

Research shows that a few vitamins and minerals may be helpful in lowering blood pressure. But talk to your doctor before taking any. Make sure they know everything you take.

  • Vitamin C: This has antioxidants that protect the linings of your blood vessels. Orange juice is a good source, as are fruits like kiwi and strawberries, and vegetables like broccoli, kale, tomatoes, and sweet red peppers. Adults should get 400 mg per day.
  • Potassium: This helps your body get rid of sodium through your pee. Men should aim for 3,400 mg a day, and women around 2,600. Itâs found in fruits like bananas and prunes and vegetables like potatoes, tomatoes, and artichoke.

  • Vitamin D: This helps make the enzyme renin, which is linked to blood pressure health. You can get vitamin D from fatty fish, like salmon or mackerel, or milk. You also can absorb vitamin D from sunlight or take it in a supplement.

What Are Symptoms Of High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is often called the silent killer because many people who have it dont have any symptoms. The only one way to know for sure if you have high blood pressure is to have a health professional measure it.

In rare cases, severe high blood pressure can cause or be accompanied by symptoms including:

  • Blood spots in the eyes
  • More common in people who also have diabetes
  • Facial flushing

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How Can I Lower My Blood Pressure Immediately

High blood pressure is a dangerous condition that impacts nearly half of adults in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . In 2018, close to half a million deaths in the country had high blood pressure as a primary or contributing cause. Occurring when the force of blood pressing against artery walls is consistently too high, high blood pressure requires a long-term care approach. However, there are several ways to temporarily lower your blood pressure in just a matter of minutesgive these methods a try if youd like to lower your blood pressure immediately:

  • Take a warm bath or shower. Stay in your shower or bath for at least 15 minutes and enjoy the warm water. This can also help reduce muscle tension.
  • Do a breathing exercise. Take a deep breath from your core, hold your breath for about two seconds, then slowly exhale. Pause for a few moments and repeat.
  • Relax! Stress is a key contributor to high blood pressure, so do whatever you can to relax. This may be as simple as sitting in a quiet room for a few moments, doing a few stretching exercises, reading a good book, or meditating.

These techniques can provide a quick fix, but its important to implement a long-term care plan to successfully manage your high blood pressure. Some of the most effective ways to lower blood pressure include:

Medicines For High Blood Pressure

High Blood Pressure and Your Heart

Several types of medicine can be used to help control high blood pressure.

Many people need to take a combination of different medicines.

  • if you’re under 55 years of age you’ll usually be offered an ACE inhibitor or an angiotensin-2 receptor blocker
  • if you’re aged 55 or older, or you’re any age and of African or Caribbean origin you’ll usually be offered a calcium channel blocker

You may need to take blood pressure medicine for the rest of your life. But your doctor might be able to reduce or stop your treatment if your blood pressure stays under control for several years.

It’s really important to take your medicine as directed. If you miss doses, it will not work as well.

The medicine will not necessarily make you feel any different, but this does not mean it’s not working.

Medicines used to treat high blood pressure can have side effects, but most people do not get any.

If you do get side effects, do not stop taking your medicine. Talk to your doctor, who may advise changing your medicine.

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Symptoms Of Sudden High Blood Pressure

Unlike traditional high blood pressure, where there are no visual symptoms until major damage has occurred, sudden high blood pressure alerts you immediately.

  • Weakness or numbness in arms, legs, face
  • Mentality changes such as anxiety, fatigue, confusion, restlessness

In extreme cases of sudden high blood pressure, there may be bleeding from damaged blood vessels, blindness from ruptured retina nerves or vessels, and possibly seizures.

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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Drink Alcohol In Moderation

Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol will increase your blood pressure and raise the cholesterol levels in your blood.

Sticking to the recommended amounts of alcohol consumption is the best way to reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure.

The recommended daily limits of alcohol consumption are:

  • 3 to 4 units of alcohol for men
  • 2 to 3 units of alcohol for women.

A unit of alcohol is equal to about half a pint of normal-strength lager, a small glass of wine or a pub measure or spirits.

More about drinking alcohol reponsibly

How Can You Manage Your High Blood Pressure

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Treatment of high blood pressure often starts with lifestyle changes, including decreasing salt in your diet, losing weight if necessary, stopping smoking, cutting down on alcohol use, and regular exercise.

In addition to lifestyle changes, medications are often used to lower blood pressure. There are several types of medications that treat high blood pressure with each type of medication having benefits and risks that should be carefully weighed by you and your health care provider. Most people take more than one medication in order to bring their blood pressure down to their treatment goal.

Your blood pressure medication should begin to work within days. However, because high blood pressure is a long-lasting medical condition that often has little or no symptoms, remembering to take your medications can be a challenge. Combination medicines, long-acting or once-a-day medications, may be used to decrease the burden of taking numerous medications and help ensure medications regularly. Once started, the medication should be used until your doctor tells you to stop.

Controlling your blood pressure should be part of a healthy living plan and lifelong task. The damage that high blood pressure causes your internal organs does not cause any symptoms until serious damage has been done.

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