Understanding How Blood Pressure Works
According to the American Heart Association, blood pressure is a measure of the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your blood vessels. How high your blood pressure is depends on how wide your blood vessels are and how fast your heart pumps blood through them.
If your blood vessels get more narrow, then your blood pressure goes up. Your blood pressure also rises any time your heart pumps harder, pushing more blood through your vessels at a time.
Your blood pressure at any given moment depends on a variety of factors, including your mood and activity level. For example, your blood vessels constrict when you exercise or get excited, which causes your blood pressure to rise.
This kind of blood pressure change is triggered by chemical signals in your body and it is known as vasoconstriction. It happens when your body purposefully constricts your blood vessels, often as a way to help you get more oxygen when you exercise or experience stress.
Vasoconstriction is only temporary, however, and your blood pressure returns back to a normal, baseline level after the chemical signal subsides. It is normal for your blood pressure to fluctuate throughout the day in this manner, but it is dangerous for your blood pressure to stay elevated for too long.
What Can I Do To Prevent Or Manage High Blood Pressure
Many people with high blood pressure can lower their blood pressure into a healthy range or keep their numbers in a healthy range by making lifestyle changes. Talk with your health care team about
- Getting at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week
- Not smoking
- Managing stress
In addition to making positive lifestyle changes, some people with high blood pressure need to take medicine to manage their blood pressure. Learn more about medicines for high blood pressure.
Talk with your health care team right away if you think you have high blood pressure or if youve been told you have high blood pressure but do not have it under control.
Can Exercise Help Lower High Blood Pressure
Exercise and physical activity help lower blood pressure by helping you lose weight and keeping your heart and blood vessels in good condition.
Weight loss achieved through diet and exercise helps control factors such as blood sugar, and other complications of obesity. Avoiding these complications helps lower blood pressure and prevent high blood pressure.
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The Clot Connection: Thrombosis Heart Attack And Stroke
Blood clots play a major role in myocardial infarction , or heart attack. Over time, the coronary arteries can develop plaquesa buildup of cholesterol, fibrous tissue, and inflammatory cellsin a process called atherosclerosis. Smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes are risk factors for atherosclerosis over time, they cause injury to the blood vessels and lead to more plaque formation. In some cases, these plaques become unstable and fracture, triggering the body to form a blood clot at that site. The blood clot may block the coronary artery and starve the heart muscle of oxygen and nutrients, resulting in a heart attack.
In deep vein thrombosis , blood clots develop in the leg or pelvis veins. Inflammation and underlying genetic factors likely predispose people to DVT. Other risk factors such as cancer or immobility also increase risk for DVT. If a portion of the DVT dislodges, it can travel through the veins and eventually reach the pulmonary arteries, becoming a pulmonary embolism .
Aaron W. Aday, MD
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How We Can Help At The Urgent Care Of The Palm Beaches
Urgent Care of The Palm Beaches offers comprehensive care plans for people diagnosed with hypertension. Whether it is a one-time occurrence related to pain or illness, or a chronic condition needing maintenance care management, our physicians can provide you with the care you need regularly.
We are also offering telemedicine urgent care so you may meet with a physician from the comfort of your home. Telemedicine is a convenient and option for many managing chronic illnesses such as hypertension.
Urgent care of The Palm Beaches has three locations open seven days a week:
Our physicians can perform a comprehensive exam, order necessary tests, treat hypertensive conditions appropriate for urgent care settings, and refer to a higher level of care if deemed necessary.
Both telemedicine and walk-in visits are being offered. If looking for COVID-19 testing in Palm Beach County, this may also be completed at any one of our three locations.
If you have any questions about hypertension, hypertensive emergency, COVID-19, or any other medical condition, please contact our clinic. We are happy to answer questions and assist with the treatment of hypertension as well as many other health concerns.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. FastStats: Emergency Department Visits. Retrieved from
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Blood Clot Testing & Diagnosis
If you have blood clot symptoms or risk factors related to a clotting disorder, your doctor will ask you about your personal and family medical histories. They may also order some tests, such as:
- Blood work: We may recommend lab tests or refer you to a hematologist, a doctor who specializes in blood disorders.
- CT scan, MRI or other imaging tests: In some cases, we may need images of your veins, abdomen, chest, brain or other location a clot may have formed.
- Echocardiogram: This imaging method uses sound waves to create pictures of your bodys organs and blood vessels.
Find out more about our heart and vascular testing and diagnosis.
Are There Other Symptoms To Watch Out For Along With A High Blood Pressure Reading
Yes, you should watch out for things like chest pain, blurred vision, headache, nausea, pain in the jaw or arm, anxiety, shortness of breath, seizures, confusion or a general lack of responsiveness. Any of these, coupled with a high blood pressure reading, are cause for emergency response, says Dr. Meier.
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How To Understand High Blood Pressure Readings
Two numbers create a blood pressure reading. Systolic pressure indicates the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats and pumps out blood. Diastolic pressure is the reading of the pressure in your arteries between beats of your heart.
Five categories define blood pressure readings for adults:
- Healthy: A healthy blood pressure reading is less than 120/80 millimeters of mercury .
- Elevated: The systolic number is between 120 and 129 mm Hg, and the diastolic number is less than 80 mm Hg. Doctors usually dont treat elevated blood pressure with medication. Instead, your doctor may encourage lifestyle changes to help lower your numbers.
- Stage 1 hypertension: The systolic number is between 130 and 139 mm Hg, or the diastolic number is between 80 and 89 mm Hg.
- Stage 2 hypertension: The systolic number is 140 mm Hg or higher, or the diastolic number is 90 mm Hg or higher.
- Hypertensive crisis: The systolic number is over 180 mm Hg, or the diastolic number is over 120 mm Hg. Blood pressure in this range requires urgent medical attention. If any symptoms like chest pain, headache, shortness of breath, or visual changes occur when blood pressure is this high, medical care in the emergency room is needed.
A blood pressure reading is taken with a pressure cuff. For an accurate reading, its important you have a cuff that fits. An ill-fitting cuff may deliver inaccurate readings.
Drinks That Lower Your Blood Pressure
If you struggle with hypertension, odds are youve looked high and low for a quick and easy way to reduce your blood pressure.
The truth is that theres no single solution, but making simple changes can yield powerful results. Something as easy as expanding and evolving your beverage intake can help to keep your blood pressure at a healthy level.
While lower blood pressure may not be just a sip away, simple changes to what you sip every day can lead to some big heart health benefits.
Here are a few options to get you started.
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Blood Pressure: How High Is Too High And What Can You Do
Alan Segal, MD, is a nephrologist at The University of Vermont Medical Center where he is also Director of the Nephrology Fellowship Program. He is also an associate professor at the Larner College of Medicine at UVM.
High blood pressure, clinically known as hypertension, affects nearly 75 million adults in the United States and 1 billion people globally. Although one-third of adults in the United States are affected, only half of them have their blood pressure controlled.
That has significant costs, both in terms of health and economics. The estimated economic burden for hypertension in 2014 was nearly $75 billion worldwide. It is the single largest contributor to death and disability worldwide, in large part because it dramatically increases the risk of stroke, heart attack, heart failure, and chronic kidney disease. For example, starting at a blood pressure of 115/75, the risk of death doubles for every 20 mmHg increase in systolic pressure , and for every 10 mmHg increase in diastolic pressure .
Hypertension is the most common reason for office visits in adults and more prescriptions are written for blood pressure lowering drugs than for any other drug class.
Lets review the most frequently asked questions about hypertension and how to treat it.
What is blood pressure and what is hypertension?
According to the Joint National Committee :
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.
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An Overview Of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is exactly what the term suggests: blood pressure that is more intense than is normal or healthy. Although blood pressure can be elevated temporarilyin response to anxiety, for examplechronically high blood pressure is a medical condition that can cause serious complications such as heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease. High blood pressure rarely causes symptoms, but it’s easily diagnosed after several readings are taken at your healthcare provider’s office or through the use of ambulatory monitoring.
Some 103 million American adults have high blood pressure, which can vary in degree from relatively mild to life-threatening. Treatment typically involves dietary changes, exercise, and other lifestyle adjustments, and/or medications such as calcium channel blockers or beta-blockers.
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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What Are The Complications Of A Pulmonary Embolism
A pulmonary embolism can cause a lack of blood flow that leads to lung tissue damage. It can cause low blood oxygen levels that can damage other organs in the body, too.
A PE, particularly a large PE or many clots, can quickly cause serious life-threatening problems and, even death.
Treatment of a PE often involves anti-coagulation medicines or blood thinners. These medicines can put you at a risk for excessive bleeding if they thin your blood too much. Excessive bleeding is bleeding that wont stop after you apply pressure for 10 minutes. Other symptoms of bleeding to watch for include:
Signs of bleeding in the digestive system:
Bright red vomit or vomit that looks like coffee grounds
Bright red blood in your stool or black, tarry stools
Signs of bleeding in the brain:
Treatment to prevent DVTs includes:
Buying A Blood Pressure Instrument To Measure Your Blood Pressure At Home
Blood pressure instruments can be purchased in most pharmacies. Buy a blood pressure instrument that has been approved by the Association for the Advancement in Medical Instrumentation , the British Hypertension Society or the International Protocol . These labels will be marked clearly on the box. If you are unsure whether an instrument is approved, ask your pharmacist for help. Once you have bought the instrument, ask your doctor or pharmacist to check it to make sure the instrument measures your blood pressure accurately.
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The Best Emergency Treatment For High Blood Pressure At Home Is Prevention
High blood pressure is common for people in their 60s and 70s. For the most part, high blood pressure comes with no symptoms attached. You may have to limit your morning cups of coffee, but beyond that, you can have high blood pressure and rarely notice it.
The complications of high blood pressure come when your blood pressure raises to dangerous levels, known as a hypertensive crisis. To prepare for this scenario, you should know the warning signs and know when to call 911.
The best at-home treatment for high blood pressure is always preventative treatment. Monitor your levels daily, keep an accessible log of all medications, and stay on top of exercise.
Lastly, install the Snug App on your phone so you can check in daily, ensuring your loved ones that youre looked after. If you miss a check-in, well alert your loved ones for you. That way, they can check up on you in case you need help.
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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High Blood Pressure A Silent Killer
Media Relations Manager
High blood pressure often runs silent and deep, stealthily building and cloaking its symptoms. As it continues along its insidious path, it can affect organ function and lead to serious and deadly consequences.
It is hypertension, more commonly known as high blood pressure within the artery walls. There are myriad causes of high blood pressure including genetic factors, hormonal imbalances, a high salt diet, obesity, sleep apnea and stress.
Its been called the silent killer for ages because hypertension does not seemingly have obvious symptoms in many cases,” said Atul Chugh, MD, a cardiologist with Franciscan Physician Network Indiana Heart Physicians in Indianapolis.The more reported symptoms are fatigue and throbbing headaches centered behind the eyes.
My Child Has High Blood Pressure Should We Go To The Er
While children have different healthy blood pressure readings than adults due to their smaller size and weight, the blood pressure reading of 180/120 that indicates a hypertensive crisis in adults also indicates a hypertensive crisis in children. If your child is experiencing these blood pressure levels, they need immediate medical care.
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Spikes In Blood Pressure Don’t Always Need Er Care
Most cases of ‘hypertensive urgency’ can be treated safely in doctor’s office, large study finds
MONDAY, June 13, 2016 — If your blood pressure reading at a routine doctor’s office visit is alarmingly high, in most cases that doesn’t mean a trip to the emergency room, a new study suggests.
In the Cleveland Clinic study of office visits by almost 60,000 patients with “hypertensive urgency” , less than 1 percent needed a referral to a hospital ER.
The rest were treated and then sent home with no added risk in terms of patient outcomes, the researchers said.
“Hypertensive urgency is common in the outpatient setting,” noted the team led by the clinic’s Dr. Krishna Patel. However, the researchers believe that “most patients probably can be safely treated in the outpatient setting, because cardiovascular complications are rare in the short term.”
Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, who directs Women’s Heart Health at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, called the finding “reassuring.”
“For those patients with hypertension, an episode of elevated blood pressure can be alarming,” she said.
However, the Cleveland study suggests that “hypertensive urgency — defined as a blood pressure of at least 180/110 — without symptoms or evidence of end organ damage can be managed safely as an outpatient,” Steinbaum said.
The findings are published online June 13 in JAMA Internal Medicine.
But it’s been unclear whether the best course of action is to send such patients to the ER.