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SafeBeat Initiative: Understanding The Highs And Lows Of . If your blood pressure reaches dangerously high levels , there is the risk that it will cause damage to the organs. Blood might leak from them. When pressure is dangerously high, your organs wont get the blood they need to function properly. When your blood pressure is too high, the arteries can become inflamed.
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Prehypertension: A Little Too Much Pressure A Lot Of Trouble
Everyone needs some blood pressure so that blood can get to all of the bodys organs. But how much is enough? How much is too much?
High blood pressure is often called the silent killer, because it usually doesnt cause symptoms. High blood pressure is also known as hypertension. It points to a higher risk of having heart disease, kidney disease and stroke. Doctors have known for a long time that blood pressure that is too high can cause these problems. But now doctors know that if it is even a little too high, it should be noticed.
When you visit a doctor for your annual checkup, your blood pressure will be taken. Blood pressure is measured by a machine with a band wrapped around your arm. The measure will tell if the blood pressure is normal, low, high, or somewhere in between. It is considered prehypertension when it doesnt quite reach the level of high blood pressure, but it is higher than normal.
Prehypertension can serve as an early warning for patients and doctors. It is a sign of possible changes that could lead to heart disease. The pressure caused by constant prehypertension can change blood vessels and the heart in a damaging way. Prehypertension can also stress the kidneys.
A single blood pressure reading does not predict heart and blood vessel disease . You wont be diagnosed with hypertension or prehypertension until it is high on several occasions. A blood pressure reading higher than normal will need to be carefully monitored.
Understanding Your Blood Pressure Reading
Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury and is given as 2 figures:
- systolic pressure the pressure when your heart pushes blood out
- diastolic pressure the pressure when your heart rests between beats
For example, if your blood pressure is “140 over 90”, or 140/90mmHg, it means you have a systolic pressure of 140mmHg and a diastolic pressure of 90mmHg.
As a general guide:
- high blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher or 150/90mmHg or higher if you’re over the age of 80
- ideal blood pressure is usually considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg, while the target for over-80s is below 150/90mmHg
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.
Page last reviewed: 23 October 2019 Next review due: 23 October 2022
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What Can I Do To Lower My Blood Pressure
There are things we can all do to help control blood pressure. These lifestyle modifications are changes you can make in your daily life.
- Follow the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH diet. This includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products with reduced saturated and total fat.
- Increase your physical activity. Add 90 to 150 minutes each week of aerobic exercise. Also, include three days of strength training each week. Not only can this help reduce or control your blood pressure, but it can also help with weight management. In overweight individuals, a weight loss of even five to 10 percent has been shown to reduce blood pressure.
- Limit your alcohol. It is recommended that men have no more than two drinks per day and women have no more than one to help control blood pressure.
- Manage your stress. Because stress can have a major impact on our bodies, it is important to have an effective coping technique. There are many techniques for relaxation.
- If you smoke, quit. Quitting smoking can have a huge impact on your health.
These are some of the most proactive ways one can support a normal blood pressure and an overall healthy life. But sometimes, even a healthy lifestyle is not enough to maintain a safe blood pressure. When lifestyle modifications do not lower blood pressure to better levels, medication can be prescribed.
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How High Is Too High
People who have readings of 130/80 or higher on at least two occasions are said to have high blood pressure.
If yours is 180/120 or higher, get medical attention right away.
Your doctor could also tell you that you have something called prehypertension. That’s when your BP is just a bit higher than 120/less than 80. About 75 million Americans fall into this category. Prehypertension can raise your chance of damage to your arteries, heart, brain, and kidneys. Many doctors say prehypertension should be treated. Still, there’s no evidence that it provides long-term help.
Many people who have high blood pressure don’t realize they have it. It’s often called “the silent killer” because it rarely causes symptoms, even as it causes serious damage to the body.
Left untreated, hypertension can lead to serious problems, such as:
- Heavy alcohol drinkers
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What Do Blood Pressure Numbers Mean
Blood pressure is measured using two numbers:
The first number, called systolic blood pressure, measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats.
The second number, called diastolic blood pressure, measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart rests between beats.
If the measurement reads 120 systolic and 80 diastolic, you would say, 120 over 80, or write, 120/80 mmHg.
What Are The Symptoms Of High Blood Pressure In Women
High blood pressure, also known as HBP or hypertension, is widely misunderstood and is called the silent killer because there can often be no symptoms. We often assume it affects those who are type-A personalities, tense and aggressive. But the truth is, it has nothing to do with personality traits. In fact, you can be the most relaxed, calm person and still suffer from HBP.
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How Can I Control My Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is very common in older people. As we age, our vascular system changes. Arteries get stiffer, so blood pressure goes up. This is true even for people who have heart-healthy habits. The good news is that blood pressure can be controlled in most people.
There are many lifestyle changes you can make to lower your risk of high blood pressure:
If you have read this article and feel that you might be a risk of high blood pressure, it is important to see the doctor for a check-up and a heart health check.
When High Blood Pressure Occurs
Blood pressure thats too high for too long can damage your blood vessels and your heart, and increase your risk of having a stroke.
For this reason, its important to understand what high blood pressure is. It usually develops over time.
It can happen because of unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as not getting enough regular physical activity. Being overweight or obese also plays a role.
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Understanding Blood Pressure Readings
The AHA explains that blood pressure is essentially the amount of force exerted by blood as it pushes up against blood vessel walls. Blood pressure is deemed to be “high” when the force of that push is higher than it should safely be.
The problem is that high blood pressure also known as hypertension is often symptomless. Many people don’t even know they have it until a cardiac emergency, such as a heart attack, strikes. Prevention by means of routine blood pressure screenings is key.
A blood pressure reading is delivered as a ratio of a top number and a bottom number . Both numbers are expressed as millimeters of mercury. The top number references blood pressure when the heart is beating, and the bottom number refers to the pressure when the heart is at rest between beats.
What Are The Symptoms Of High Blood Pressure
Most people who have high blood pressure do not have symptoms. This is why its sometimes called the silent killer. It is very important to have your blood pressure checked regularly.
Some people experience headaches, nosebleeds, or shortness of breath with high blood pressure. However, those symptoms can mimic many other things . Usually, these symptoms occur once blood pressure has reached a dangerously high level over a period of time.
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About High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is usually defined as having a sustained blood pressure of 140/90mmHg or above.
The line between normal and raised blood pressure is not fixed and depends on your individual circumstances. However, most doctors agree that the ideal blood pressure for a physically healthy person is around 120/80mmHg.
A normal blood pressure reading is classed as less than 130/80mmHg.
How Is It Diagnosed
Because it is such a common problem, blood pressure is checked at most healthcare visits. High blood pressure is usually discovered during one of these visits. If your blood pressure is high, you will be asked to return for follow-up checks. If repeated checks of your blood pressure show that it is higher than 140/90, you have hypertension.
Your healthcare provider will ask about your life situation, what you eat and drink, and if high blood pressure runs in your family. You may have urine and blood tests. Your provider may order a chest X-ray and an electrocardiogram . You may be asked to use a portable blood-pressure measuring device, which will take your pressure at different times during day and night. All of this testing is done to look for a possible cause of your high blood pressure.
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When To See The Doctor
If you have had episodes where you feel faint or have fainted, see your doctor. In many cases, an episode of low blood pressure is nothing to worry about, but some people may have an underlying problem that needs treatment.
Treating low blood pressure will help reduce symptoms and lower the chances of you fainting or falling and injuring yourself.
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What Causes High Blood Pressure In Women
Women can develop high blood pressure for many of the same reasons as men, but there are some unique causes of high blood pressure in women. Hormonal changes after menopause may lead to weight gain and sensitivity to salt that increase the risk of high blood pressure. Also, hormone replacement therapy and some birth control pills may raise blood pressure in women.
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What Are The Symptoms Of High Blood Pressure In Pregnancy
Your blood pressure is an important indicator of your health. If your BP is too high, it can cause you to feel fatigued, jittery, and generally unwell.
Common signs that you have hypertension include tiredness, light-headedness, tightness in your muscles and feet, slow reaction times, and friction burns on the rug in your apartment.
Symptoms of high blood pressure during pregnancy include
- Sudden weight gain, and puffiness around your face, hands or ankles.
If youre experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.
Types Of Hypertension And Their Causes
There are two types of hypertension: primary hypertension and secondary hypertension. Each type has corresponding causes.
For primary hypertension, the identifiable cause include blood plasma volume, hormone activity, and certain environmental factors such as stress and lack of exercise. Primary hypertension slowly develops and is usually linked to risk factors like genetics, environment, and physical changes. Unfortunately, some people diagnosed with this type of hypertension have no idea that they have it until symptoms show.
Unlike primary hypertension, secondary hypertension develops quickly and can be more severe. Also, secondary hypertension is often linked to severe medical conditions such as kidney disease, adrenal disease, congenital heart defects, thyroid problems, and obstructive sleep apnea.
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Can I Die From High Blood Pressure
The short answer is yes. Most often, people die from complications of high blood pressure, such as heart attack and stroke.
However, as you might remember seeing in the earlier table, there is such a thing as a hypertensive crisis, which happens when your blood pressure is dangerously high. Hypertensive crises can be caused by strokes, heart attacks, heart failure, kidney failure, interactions between legal or illegal drugs, consistently not taking your blood pressure medications, or a condition in pregnant women called eclampsia.
A hypertensive crisis can be classified as urgent or emergent.
An urgent hypertensive crisis requires immediate medical attention but does not involve organ damage.
An emergent hypertensive crisis is considered an emergency because there has been potentially life-threatening damage to your organs. The likely presence of organ damage is the only difference between hypertensive urgency and emergency.
How quickly a person goes from hypertensive urgency to emergency to death varies based on the individual. So if you ever find that your blood pressure is greater than 180/120 mmHg, call 9-1-1 right away to get medical help as soon as possible.
Target Your High Blood Pressure
Once you have been diagnosed with hypertension, remember that high blood pressure can be lowered. For most people, blood pressure readings should be lower than 140/90 mmHg when measured in the doctors office. At home, your blood pressure should generally be below 135/85 mmHg. For those people with diabetes or kidney disease, lower blood pressure is even more important and should be below 130/80 mmHg when measured in the doctors office.
Most people who lead healthy lifestyles do not suffer from high blood pressure. For those with hypertension, following the steps outlined above will lower their blood pressure.
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Having A Blood Pressure Test
A stethoscope, arm cuff, pump and dial was normally used to measure your blood pressure, but automatic devices with sensors and digital displays are commonly used nowadays.
It’s best to sit down with your back supported and legs uncrossed for at least 5 minutes before the test.
You’ll usually need to roll up your sleeves or remove any long-sleeved clothing so the cuff can be placed around your upper arm.
Try to relax and avoid talking while the test is carried out.
During the test:
- you hold out one of your arms so it’s at the same level as your heart, and the cuff is placed around it your arm should be supported in this position with a cushion or the arm of a chair, for example
- the cuff is pumped up to restrict the blood flow in your arm this squeezing may feel a bit uncomfortable, but only lasts a few seconds
- the pressure in the cuff is slowly released and detectors sense vibrations in your arteries a doctor will use a stethoscope to detect these if your blood pressure is measured manually
- the pressure in the cuff is recorded at 2 points as the blood flow starts to return to your arm these measurements are used to give your blood pressure reading
You can usually find out your result straight away, either from the healthcare professional carrying out the test or on the digital display.
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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Blood Pressure Is Typically Recorded As Two Numbers And A Written As A Ratio
- Systolic: The top number in the ratio, which is also the higher of the two, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats.
- Diastolic: The bottom number in the ratio, which is also the lower of the two, measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats.
Your blood pressure rises with each heartbeat and falls when your heart relaxes between beats. While it can change from minute to minute with changes in posture, exercise, stress or sleep, it should normally be less than 120/80 mm Hg for women or men aged 20 or over.
Can Alcohol Cause High Blood Pressure
Drinking three or more alcoholic beverages has been shown to temporarily increase blood pressure levels. Binge drinking and heavy drinking defined as three or more daily drinks for women and four or more daily drinks for men may lead to ongoing high blood pressure. Cutting back on alcohol consumption is often part of a treatment plan for hypertension.
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Dietary Recommendations For Hypertension
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute in the United States recommends the DASH diet. This diet suggests several servings from various food groups with a few limitations. Having risk factors for hypertension requires you to follow these dietary recommendations to prevent further complications.
Dietary recommendations for hypertension include:
Limit intake of foods that are high in cholesterol, saturated fats, and trans fats.
Consume more whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Eat more fish, poultry, and legumes.
Limit sodium in your diet.
Drink low-fat or skim dairy products instead of using the cream of full-fat.
Cut sugar in your diet. If possible, do not incorporate sweetened products.