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When Your Blood Pressure Is High

Get Regular Blood Pressure Checks

Blood Pressure: How High is Too High and How Do I Lower it Safely?

If your blood pressure is in the healthy range and you have no other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, and no personal or family history of high blood pressure, it is still important to have a check at least every two years. Your doctor can also check your blood pressure during routine visits.

If your blood pressure is highnormal , or if you have other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as a personal or family history of high blood pressure, stroke or heart attack, it is best to have it checked more frequently such as every 6 to 12 months or as directed by your doctor. Ask your doctor for advice.

Who Is Affected By High Blood Pressure

Approximately 1 in 3, more than 100 million, American adults have high blood pressure. But only half of those people have their condition under control. Many people develop high blood pressure when they are in their late 30s or early 40s, and it occurs more frequently as people age. However, because of the obesity epidemic, more and more children are also developing high blood pressure.

What Can You Do To Prevent High Blood Pressure

Making lifestyle changes can help you to prevent high blood pressure. You can:

  • Stay at a healthy weight or lose extra weight.
  • Eat heart-healthy foods.
  • Eat less salt and salty foods.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Cut back on drinking. Limit alcohol to 2 drinks a day and no more than 14 drinks a week for men and 9 drinks a week for women.

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Diagnosing High Or Low Blood Pressure

Only one of your numbers needs to be higher than it should be to be diagnosed with high blood pressure, and only one needs to be lower than it should be to be diagnosed with low blood pressure.

So if your top number is over 140 or the bottom number is over 90, you may be diagnosed with high blood pressure, regardless of the other number. If your top number is under 90 or your bottom number is under 60, you may be diagnosed with low blood pressure. Use the chart to see where your numbers sit.

If your top number is consistently higher than 140mmHg, but the bottom number is healthy – this is known as Isolated Systolic Hypertension. If the bottom number is consistently higher than 90mmHg but the top number is healthy – this is known as Isolated Diastolic Hypertension.

Making sure your readings arent a one-off

A single high reading doesnt necessarily mean you have high blood pressure, as many things can affect your blood pressure throughout the day, such as the temperature, when you last ate, and if youre feeling stressed.

Your doctor or nurse will probably want to measure your blood pressure a number of times over a few weeks to make sure the reading wasnt just a one off and that your blood pressure stays high over time.

Read about how high blood pressure is diagnosed, getting a blood pressure check, the further tests you might have if you have a high blood pressure reading, and what it means if youre diagnosed with high blood pressure.

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Causes Of High Blood Pressure

What Is High Blood Pressure?

Genetics and age both contribute to your likelihood of having high blood pressure. If anyone in your family has a history of high blood pressure, you might face a higher risk of having high blood pressure. Middle-aged and older adults face a higher risk too.

Other risk factors for high blood pressure include:

High blood pressure is also more common in African Americans, women who take oral contraceptives, people who drink a lot of alcohol, and individuals who eat a high sodium diet.

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Good Sleep Can Prevent And Manage High Blood Pressure

Most people experience a dip in blood pressure during the deepest stage of sleep , which is the body’s normal and healthy reaction to sleep. Not having that nighttime dip is a risk factor for heart disease and may increase daytime blood pressure.

Typically people spend 90 minutes to two hours in slow wave sleep per night. A recent study published in Hypertension found that men who got less slow wave sleep each night were a higher risk for hypertension than men who got more deep sleep.

While sleep disorders, like sleep apnea, and age can both affect the amount of deep sleep you get, there are steps you can take to ensure a good night’s sleep. Getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule and being more active during the day can help improve the quality of your sleep.

How Is Blood Pressure Measured

Blood pressure is measured using a machine called a blood pressure monitor.

A cuff is put over your arm. This cuff is attached to a machine which measures the pressure inside your arteries. When the machine is switched on the cuff tightens and then slowly loosens again. It is quick and painless. At the end, the machine will give a blood pressure reading.

Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury .

A blood pressure reading contains two numbers and will be written as a figure like 120/75

The first number is the pressure when your heart beats . The second number is when your heart relaxes .

During a blood pressure test, a blood pressure cuff is wrapped around your arm so a blood pressure monitor can measure your systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

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How Can I Be More Active

  • Check first with your healthcare provider before increasing your physical activity. Ask your provider what type and amount of exercise is right for you.
  • Choose aerobic activities such as walking, biking or swimming.
  • Start slowly and increase activity gradually. Aim for a regular routine of activity 5 times a week for 30 to 45 minutes each session.

What Is The Best Treatment For High Blood Pressure

How to Take Your Blood Pressure at Home

Treatment frequently begins with lifestyle adjustments alone if your BP puts you in the elevated or stage 1 category, with an otherwise very low risk of developing heart disease over the following 10 years. Just like the risk factors above put you in the crosshairs of HBP, reducing those risk factors can help bring your BP back down.

Heres where to start:

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Blood Pressure And The Heart

Theres a reason why your blood pressure is taken every time you visit a doctors office or hospital, regardless of the complaint that brought you there. High blood pressure is rightly known as the silent killer. It often carries no symptoms or warning signs but can drastically increase your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. The higher the number, the harder your heart is having to work to pump blood around your body and the more likely it is that damage is being done to the heart muscle. Since all parts of your body rely on circulation, though, its not just your heart that high blood pressure can impact. If blood doesnt flow easily, it can harm your arteries as well as vital organs such as the kidneys, eyes, and brain.

High blood pressure has been shown to damage the tiny blood vessels in the parts of your brain responsible for cognition and memory, greatly increasing your risk of developing Alzheimers disease or another dementia. Being diagnosed with cardiovascular disease can also take an emotional toll, affecting your outlook and making you more susceptible to anxiety and depression. And just as blood pressure may have an impact your mood, the reverse can also be true:

Endocrine And Kidney Conditions

An underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism, is one of the more common secondary causes of IDH. As in primary hypertension, the elevated diastolic pressure is the result of excessive arteriolar narrowing.

Hypothyroidism may be suspected in a person with weight gain, fatigue and intolerance to the cold, but blood tests are required to confirm the diagnosis. Endocrine diseases producing high levels of aldosterone, parathyroid hormone or corticosteroids can also cause IDH.

Most diseases that damage the kidney can lead to IDH by reducing the ability of the kidneys to remove fluids from the body or by increasing the production of angiotensin. Renovascular hypertension, due to narrowing of the main artery leading to the kidneys, is another possible cause of IDH.

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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.

Home Blood Pressure Monitoring

Blood Pressure

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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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.

The Prevalence Of Diastolic High Blood Pressure

Certain studies have confirmed the concerning extent of the prevalence of IDH in the population.According to the reputed Framingham Heart Study on diastolic and systolic hypertension published in 2005 in the journal Circulation :1121-7), diastolic hypertension was found to be more prevalent in young adults of less than 40 years compared to systo-diastolic hypertension .SDH is when both systolic and diastolic blood pressure combined have values that are elevated.The Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III for the period 19881991 revealed that diastolic hypertension was most prevalent in young adults of under 40 years and proportional in prevalence to systolic-diastolic hypertension among those between ages 40 to 49 years. Of those your adults, the majority were male.In addition over 75% of young adult population with untreated hypertension had IDH and ISH.The two independent studies retained similar findings on the prevalence of IDH across the population.

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What Do Blood Pressure Numbers Mean

Blood pressure readings are composed of two numbersfor example, 120/80 mm Hg.

The top number measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats. The bottom number measures the pressure in your arteries between each heart beat.

The standard unit of measure, mm Hg, stands for “millimeters of mercury.” Mercury pressure gauges have been replaced with electronic pressure gauges, but the abbreviation is still used.

What Is Blood Pressure

Lowering Blood Pressure in 5 Minutes

Blood pressure is the vital force that propels oxygen-rich blood to all parts of your body. Your heart is the pump that generates the force, and your arteries are the channels that transport and distribute the blood.

The height of your blood pressure is determined by how forcefully your heart’s main pumping chamber, the left ventricle, contracts, and by the diameter and stiffness of your arteries. In turn, your heart and arteries are influenced by a large number of genetic, hormonal, metabolic, neurological, psychological, and lifestyle factors that determine your blood pressure. Because these influences are so numerous and complex, your blood pressure can vary from minute to minute and hour to hour during the course of the day, to say nothing of the slower shifts that occur over the course of a lifetime.

Blood pressure has two components. Your systolic blood pressure is the higher number, recorded while your heart is pumping blood into your arteries your diastolic blood pressure is the lower number, recorded when your heart is relaxing and refilling with blood between beats. Both numbers are calibrated in millimeters of mercury , a vestige of the mercury column used in the first pressure manometers more than 100 years ago. By convention, the higher number is recorded first a systolic pressure of 110 mm Hg and diastolic pressure of 70 mm Hg would be written as 110/70 and pronounced “110 over 70.”

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Making The Exercise Habit Stick

Despite our best intentions, many of us struggle ditching our sedentary lifestyle. But there are steps you can take to make exercise less intimidating and more fun.

Start small and build momentum. If exercising for 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week sounds overwhelming, set a smaller goal and gradually build up as you gain self-confidence and momentum.

Reward yourself. Once it becomes a regular habit, exercise will reward you with more energy, better sleep, a greater sense of well-being, and improved cardiovascular health. When youre starting out, though, give yourself a simple reward for successfully completing a workout, such as having a hot bath or a favorite cup of coffee.

Choose activities you enjoy. Youre more likely to stick with a workout you find pleasurable. If you hate running but like yoga or dancing, for example, dont force yourself onto the treadmill every day. Pick activities that fit your lifestyle, abilities, and taste.

See How to Start Exercising and Stick to It to learn more.

The effects on your blood pressure

  • 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise, such as walking, for five days of the week can reduce your reading by 4 to 11 mm Hg.

Medicines For High Blood Pressure

Why are different people given different medicines?

People respond differently to blood pressure medicines. A number of things can affect how you respond to each medicine, including your ethnic background, age and how much salt you eat. It can take some trial and error to find the medicine or combination of medicines that works best for you.

Younger, non-black people tend to respond slightly better to ACE inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers. Older people and those of African or Caribbean origin tend to respond better to calcium-channel blockers and thiazide diuretics.

These will usually be the first medicines youre offered, aiming to keep the number of medicines needed to a minimum. Read more about finding the right medicines for you.

Should I be taking aspirin as well?

If you have high blood pressure, your doctor might recommend that you take aspirin if you are at a higher risk of heart attacks or strokes, for example, if you have had an ischaemic stroke caused by a blood clot or heart attack in the past. This is because aspirin thins your blood and prevents blood clots from forming.

Do not start taking aspirin regularly unless your doctor advsises you to because aspirinâs ability to prevent clots can raise the risk of bleeding from the stomach and intestines, it might also be linked to a higher risk of strokes caused by burst blood vessels.

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Including Diastolic Hypertension Causes Symptoms Treatment And Medication And Possible Complications

Diastolic hypertension is also refereed to as Isolated Diastolic Hypertension or IDH in short. Some medical professionals are more comfortable dropping the âIsolatedâ prefix which they worry would minimize IDH and its health implications.

While for the longest time, isolated systolic blood pressure has been clinically recognized as a hypertension subgroup, this has not been the case with diastolic high blood pressure. Yet, studies show that IDH is an emerging problem in developing countries.There are a few things to have some clarity on as we explore in detail intriguing scientific research findings to do with diastolic high blood pressure.

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How To Lower Blood Pressure

What is high blood pressure costing your business?

There are lots of things you can do to lower your blood pressure.

If your doctor has given you blood pressure medication, take it as prescribed. However, you’ll also need to follow a heart-healthy lifestyle.

Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with hypertension, following these tips will be good for your blood pressure and good for your heart.

Quit smoking

Stopping smoking is a great thing you can do for your blood pressure and your heart health.

Ask your doctor or nurse for help.

Phone Quitline 0800 778 778, or visit quit.org.nz for information and support.

Eat more heart-healthy foods and less salt

What you put into your body can make a big difference to your blood pressure.

Eat a wide variety of heart-healthy foods like:

  • whole grains

Read more about the benefits of exercise.

Manage stress

Researchers are still trying to understand the exact link between stress and long-term high blood pressure. However being stressed contributes to other risk factors like poor diet and drinking more alcohol.

You can’t always remove the sources of stress in your life. But here are some things you can do to manage them.

  • Enjoy exercise every day, like taking a walk.
  • Take a break for yourself.
  • Get 7-8 hours plus sleep each night.
  • Talk about how you are feeling.
  • Try relaxation music or breathing exercises.

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