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When To Worry About Blood Pressure

What Is Normal Blood Pressure

High Blood pressure: Why we shouldnt worry about the number

A normal blood pressure is a systolic blood pressure that is less than 120 mmHg ) and a diastolic blood pressure that is less than 80 mmHg.

The ACC and AHA recommend that adults should have their blood pressure checked at least once a year. If an adult has one or more risk factors for high blood pressurefor example, a family history or a history of smokingthey should be screened at least twice a year.

High Blood Pressure: Should You Worry

You should be concerned if your blood pressure is going up, but remember that it’s possible to lower it with proper treatment and lifestyle changes.

Its a common condition, and it doesnt have any symptoms: About one out of three U.S. adults has high blood pressure, or hypertension. And nearly one out of three American adults has prehypertension blood pressure numbers that are higher than normal, but not yet in the high blood pressure range which raises the risk of developing high blood pressure.

High blood pressure is a leading cause of heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and kidney disease, so it’s a serious condition that we all must be more conscious of as we age. African-Americans in particular should pay careful attention to blood pressure: In one year, the overall death rate from high blood pressure was 40 percent for African-American females and 52 percent for African-American males more than for any other group.

When Does Blood Pressure Become High Blood Pressure?

According to guidelines followed by doctors, blood pressure is normal if it’s 120/80 or below. The range of 120/80 to 139/89, which was once classified as normal to high, is now considered to be prehypertensive.

How Can You Lower Your High Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure is a treatable condition. Most doctors recommend starting with these lifestyle changes to lower blood pressure:

How Do You Handle Resistant High Blood Pressure?

Fifth Misconception About High Blood Pressure: Treatment Doesn’t Work

In fact, if you work with your doctor to develop a comprehensive program for managing your high blood pressure, that plan can work. To maximize the benefits of your plan, follow these steps:

  • Check your blood pressure as often as recommended by your doctor.
  • Follow your treatment plan consistently. Let your doctor know right away if you have problems with parts of the plan. Your doctor may refer you to other health care professionals who can help.
  • See your doctor as often as requested. Bring your blood pressure records to show your doctor how the plan is working.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist for information about medication side effects. Know when to call your doctor if there is a problem.
  • Reduce how much salt you take in.

Learning about high blood pressure and how it can harm your health is the first step in controlling this condition so you can remain healthy for years to come.

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What Causes Low Blood Pressure

Medications are one of the most common causes for low blood pressure. Dr. Courson advises that if you do have low blood pressure measurements, you should review your medications with your doctor.

Though there are many factors that can affect blood pressure, three of the most important are:

  • Stroke volume, which is the amount of blood pumped from your heart with each contraction.
  • Blood vessel tone, which can be affected by stiffness or blockages in the blood vessels.
  • Heart rate.

Disruption of any of these factors can result in low blood pressure. For example, a patient with heart failure and a low stroke volume may be prone to low blood pressures. This sometimes occurs if too much fluid is removed with diuretics .

Some conditions such as infection or paralysis can affect the tone in the blood vessels and result in low blood pressure. Arrhythmias that cause too slow or too fast heart rates can result in low blood pressure.

Its normal for blood pressure values to fluctuate and to go up and down. You need a higher blood pressure when exercising and a lower blood pressure when at rest as your oxygen requirements differ under these conditions. Your autonomic nervous system regulates our blood pressure.

I think of this as our automatic nervous system as we do not control this by thought, says Dr. Courson. So, if you get upset or exercise, your blood pressure will rise. But you cant think your blood pressure up or down, says Dr. Courson.

How To Control High Blood Pressure

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High blood pressure is generally a treatable condition. In most of the cases, the following are recommended for controlling the high blood pressure:

  • Quit smoking
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine intake
  • Exercise regularly and follow a healthy lifestyle
  • Follow a healthy diet and limit salt intake in diet
  • Reduce stress

In addition to the above, certain anti-hypertensive drugs may be prescribed by the doctor based on the condition of the patient.

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When Should You Worry About Your Blood Pressure

Affecting one out of three adults in the US, high blood pressure or hypertension is quite prevalent in the country. Yet, its a condition that doesnt have any symptoms. In addition, nearly one out of three American adults has prehypertension higher blood pressure numbers that increase the risk of developing hypertension.

High blood pressure is the number one cause of stroke, kidney disease, heart failure, and heart attack. Its a serious problem that adults must be wary of as they age. Studies show that African-Americans, in particular, are more at risk of this condition. In one year, the overall death rate from high blood pressure was 52 percent for African-American males and 40 percent for females more than for any other group.

Its All About Lifestyle Change

If youve been told you have high blood pressure, dont be discouraged. You and your care provider can work through it. Often lifestyle changes can make a big difference. You can follow this simple name: MAWDS

M Take your medication: Make you medication part of your routine, and dont stop taking medication just because your blood pressure is ok. It probably just means its working!

A Stay active each day: shoot for 30 minutes x 5 days = 150 minutes

W Manage a healthy weight: Make changes to your diet and activity level even a small amount will help!

D Eat a healthy diet: Start by adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet.

S Stop smoking and manage stress.

You have more control over high blood pressure than you think. Work with your care provider to find a nutrition, exercise, and care plan that will work for you – then reap the rewards of healthy living.

Taking care of your heart now can help prevent heart disease and high blood pressure. to guide you through the things you can do to keep your heart healthy and prevent high blood pressure.

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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, it’s best to get it checked with your GP.

Hypertensive Crisis: When You Should Call 911 For High Blood Pressure

Worried About High Blood Pressure?

A hypertensive crisis is when blood pressure rises quickly and severely with readings of 180/120 or greater.

The consequences of uncontrolled blood pressure in this range can be severe and include:

  • Pulmonary edema
  • Eclampsia

An elevated reading may or may not be accompanied by one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Severe headache
  • Severe anxiety

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Causes Of Low Diastolic Blood Pressure

There are three known causes of isolated diastolic hypotension:

  • Alpha-blocker medications. These blood pressure medications work by causing your blood vessels to open up . Because they lower diastolic pressure more than systolic pressure, they may cause isolated diastolic hypotension. Common brand names include Minipress and Cardura.
  • The aging process. As we age, we lose the elasticity of our arteries. For some older adults, arteries may become too stiff to spring back between heartbeats, causing diastolic blood pressure to be low.
  • Too much salt in your diet. Dietary salt can decrease elasticity of your blood vessels. If you take in too much salt, you may increase your risk for low diastolic blood pressure.

There are several common causes of overall hypotension, which would include a low diastolic number.

  • Overtreatment of high blood pressure. For some people, especially people over age 60, lowering systolic blood pressure below 120 may cause diastolic pressure to fall below 60.

Why Is Your Blood Pressure Important

Your blood pressure is important because if it is too high, it affects the blood flow to your organs. Over the years, this increases your chances of developing heart disease, stroke, chronic kidney disease, eye disease, erectile dysfunction and other conditions.

Very occasionally, people with very high blood pressure are at serious risk of problems and need urgent treatment in hospital to reduce the risk of a stroke or heart attack.

Current Australian guidelines recommend that if you have persistent raised blood pressure over 160/100 mmHg, but are at low risk of having a stroke or heart attack, you should talk to your doctor or specialist about taking medication to lower your blood pressure.

For further information, visit the Choosing Wisely Australia website.

If youre over 18, you should have your blood pressure checked by your doctor at least every 2 years, or more often if advised.

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Living With Low Blood Pressure

Medicines and lifestyle changes can help you live safely with chronic low blood pressure. Your doctor can recommend steps you can take to manage your low blood pressure. These actions can help control the condition:

Drink more water. This can help avoid dehydration.

Medicines and lifestyle changes can help you live safely with chronic low blood pressure.

Avoid alcohol. Alcoholic beverages are dehydrating, and alcohol changes how medicines work in your body.

Slow down. Take your time when standing up. If lying down, sit up first. Then wiggle your feet and move your legs. This will increase circulation and get your heart rate up so that you dont feel lightheaded when you stand up.

If your medicine and lifestyle changes do not reduce your low blood pressure symptoms, talk with your doctor about other changes you can make.

Understanding The Acc/aha Definition

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It’s important to mention that the definition of high blood pressure according to the ACC/AHA defers slightly from other professional societies, such as the European Society of Cardiology and the European Society of Hypertension .

The ESC/ESH defines high blood pressure as a systolic blood pressure that is 140 mmHg or higher or a diastolic blood pressure that is greater than 90 mmHg.

The differences in definition are based on results from large studies that examined the link between blood pressure and the occurrence of heart attacks and strokes.

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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.

Heart Attack And Heart Disease

High blood pressure can damage your arteries by making them less elastic, which decreases the flow of blood and oxygen to your heart and leads to heart disease. In addition, decreased blood flow to the heart can cause:

  • Chest pain, also called angina.
  • Heart attack, which happens when the blood supply to your heart is blocked and heart muscle begins to die without enough oxygen. The longer the blood flow is blocked, the greater the damage to the heart.
  • Heart failure, a condition that means your heart cant pump enough blood and oxygen to your other organs.

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When To See A Doctor

Although high blood pressure does not usually cause symptoms, anyone experiencing a sudden, severe headache or nosebleed should check their blood pressure.

If their blood pressure is above 180/120 mm Hg, they should stay rested for 5 minutes and recheck their blood pressure. If the blood pressure is still higher than 180/120 mm Hg, they need to seek medical help at their doctors office.

If a person is experiencing severe symptoms, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or visual difficulty, they need to call 911 for emergency medical treatment as they may be experiencing a hypertensive crisis.

Medications to reduce blood pressure can cause side effects such as dizziness. If this side effect does not go away or affects a persons daily activities, they should speak with their family doctor.

Your Blood Pressure Numbers And What They Mean

Worried about your low blood pressure?

Your blood pressure is recorded as two numbers:

  • Systolic blood pressure indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls when the heart beats.
  • Diastolic blood pressure indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls while the heart is resting between beats.

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What Are The Treatments For High Blood Pressure

Treatments for high blood pressure include heart-healthy lifestyle changes and medicines.

You will work with your provider to come up with a treatment plan. It may include only the lifestyle changes. These changes, such as heart-healthy eating and exercise, can be very effective. But sometimes the changes do not control or lower your high blood pressure. Then you may need to take medicine. There are different types of blood pressure medicines. Some people need to take more than one type.

If your high blood pressure is caused by another medical condition or medicine, treating that condition or stopping the medicine may lower your blood pressure.

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

When Are Blood Pressure Fluctuates Within Minutes Desirable

Contrary to the popular belief, blood pressure fluctuations have very little to do with the heart health, but rather with biochemical and mechanical processes that guard the blood flow. There are several feedback sensors located in the kidneys, the adrenals, arteries, as well as the brain that work continuously to ensure that blood pressure is matching the body needs. These sensors are responsible for regulating blood flow by either managing the heart rate or by changing blood vessel tone. Either way, there will be changes to BP.

The effort to regulate BP perfectly minute to minute is of great importance to the body. It takes less than 5 minutes for brain cells to die if they are deprived of oxygen. Thus, if you detect blood pressure fluctuations within minutes, unless your sensors malfunctioned, its likely that your need for oxygen changed.

Let me give you an example. Have you seen people running, playing tennis or wresting? They were all huffing and puffing. But their gasping for air wasnt due to a suddenly developed breathing disorder. It was due to the body sensors demanding more oxygen.1

Gym is the place where BP frequently gets out of control. Weight lifters may go into a temporary hypertension while increasing their systolic number by 100 mmHg or more. But such gym-induced blood pressure spike has nothing to do with risk for hypertension. It is how the body delivers oxygen.

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First Misconception Is That High Blood Pressure Isn’t A Big Deal

Early on, you may not notice symptoms of high blood pressure, so you may not be too concerned. However, in the long run high blood pressure can kill you. Normally, your heart beats regularly, pumping blood through the vessels all over your body. As the blood is pushed by the heartbeat, the blood in turn pushes against the sides of your blood vessels. Blood vessels are flexible and can widen or constrict as needed to keep blood flowing well. For a variety of reasons, your blood may begin to push too hard against the blood vessels. This elevated blood pressure, which can cause your arteries to become stiff over time, is how problems begin.

High blood pressure can lead to damage of your blood vessels, heart, kidneys, and other organs in your body. Heart disease and stroke, both caused by high blood pressure, are the first and fifth leading causes of death in the U.S.

The scary thing about high blood pressure is that you may have it without even knowing it. That’s why doctors often call high blood pressure the “silent killer.” Health care professionals agree: High blood pressure is a big deal.

To understand the numbers, normal blood pressure is less than 120 over less than 80 elevated is 120-129 over less than 80 hypertension stage 1 is 130-139 or 80-89 and hypertension stage 2 is greater than 140 or greater than 90 .


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