How Your Blood Pressure And Circulatory System Work
In order to survive and function properly, your tissues and organs need the oxygenated blood that your circulatory system carries throughout the body. When the heart beats, it creates pressure that pushes blood through a network of tube-shaped blood vessels, which include arteries, veins and capillaries. This pressure blood pressure is the result of two forces: The first force occurs as blood pumps out of the heart and into the arteries that are part of the circulatory system. The second force is created as the heart rests between heart beats.
Complications Of High Blood Pressure
Long-standing high blood pressure can damage the heart and blood vessels and increase the risk of
With longstanding high blood pressure, the heart enlarges and the heart’s walls thicken because the heart has to work harder to pump blood. The thickened walls are stiffer than normal. Consequently, the heart’s chambers do not expand normally and are harder to fill with blood, further increasing the heart’s workload. These changes in the heart may result in abnormal heart rhythms or heart failure.
High blood pressure causes thickening of the walls of blood vessels and also makes them more likely to develop hardening of the arteries . People with thickened blood vessel walls and atherosclerosis are at higher risk of stroke, heart attack, vascular dementia, and kidney failure. Stroke and heart attack are considered atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease .
Preventing High Blood Pressure
To keep your blood pressure in the normal range, your daily habits are key. These things help:
Donât smoke. Among the many health problems that smoking causes, it raises your blood pressure.
Make physical activity a habit. Most experts recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity five or more times a week. Or you could do a harder activity for a shorter period of time per session.
Eat right. Read food labels to see how much sodium is in a serving. Check with your doctor to find out what your daily limit should be. Include a lot of vegetables and fruits, along with whatever else you choose to put on your plate.
Stick to a healthy weight. Extra pounds raise your blood pressure. If youâre not sure what a healthy weight would be for you, ask your doctor.
If you drink alcohol, limit it to no more than one drink a day if youâre a woman and up to two drinks a day if youâre a man.
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Major Factors That Affect Blood Pressure
The major ways your body can regulate your blood pressure include: – Changing your heart beat: When your heart beats faster, more blood pumps through your vessels and blood pressure is higher. Similarly, when your heart beats with more forceful contractions, it pumps more blood with each beat, and pressure rises. – Contracting or expanding blood vessel walls: Blood vessel walls are muscular, which allows them to expand or contract. More narrow vessels cause faster blood flow and higher blood pressure . Dilated vessels are wider, allowing blood to flow easily . – Kidney function: Your body can also adjust your blood volume by controlling water retention and urination through kidney function . The higher your blood volume, the higher your blood pressure.
How Can I Prevent Or Slow The Progression Of Kidney Disease From High Blood Pressure
The best way to slow or prevent kidney disease from high blood pressure is to take steps to lower your blood pressure. These steps include a combination of medicines and lifestyle changes, such as
- being physically active
- managing stress
- following a healthy diet, including less sodium intake
No matter what the cause of your kidney disease, high blood pressure can make your kidneys worse. If you have kidney disease, you should talk with your health care professional about your individual blood pressure goals and how often you should have your blood pressure checked.
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S Of The Body Impacted By High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is a serious illness that affects nearly 65 million adults across the nation. Hypertension is a silent killer that can cause very serious health issues if left untreated, said Jason McKnight, MD, MS, primary care physician at Texas A& M Family Care and clinical assistant professor at the Texas A& M College of Medicines Texas A& M Family Medicine Residency Program. Patients typically only show symptoms of hypertension if the pressure is very high. It is important to always monitor your blood pressure and take any medications prescribed, whether you feel symptoms or not.
Regulating Your Blood Pressure Over The Long Term
Over the long term, your kidneys are primarily responsible for blood pressure. In fact, many blood pressure lowering medications work by triggering the kidneys to release excess sodium and fluid. When working properly, this fluid regulation system keep blood pressure relatively constant over the years . When your blood pressure is high, hormones are released to signal increased urination, lowering blood volume and blood pressure . When blood volume and pressure is too low, hormones secreted from your brain tell your kidneys to retain sodium and water, increasing blood volume and blood pressure . Problems with this system can lead to high blood pressure, which increases your risk of heart attack and stroke.
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Headaches And Migraine Attacks
“What we found in our studies was the environment is probably one of the most important triggers for migraine attacks, “said Dr. Vince Martin, director of the Headache and Facial Pain Center at the University of Cincinnati Gardner Neuroscience Institute, during the 2019 Migraine World Summit.
Dr. Martin is one of the leading world experts in migraine triggers like low barometric pressure, stress, neck pain, and food. He presented the latest research at the 2019 American Headache Society conference to over 1300 doctors and headache experts.
“About 30 to 50% of all Migraine patients think they have a weather trigger, but I would argue that because of the multitude of triggers with weather that many people may not even recognize they have a weather trigger.”
Normal barometric pressure changes are one of the most commonly reported weather-related Migraine triggers. Migraine attacks are thought to be triggered by environmental or biological changes, and that includes changing atmospheric pressure.
Dr. Cynthia Armand explains, “Our head is made up of pockets of air that we call sinuses. Usually, those pockets of air are at equilibrium with the atmospheric pressure. When there’s a change in that atmospheric pressure, it creates a change in what you’re experiencing in your head and what’s going on in the air around you. That shift is a Migraine trigger.”
Improving Health With Current Research
Learn about the following ways in which we continue to translate current research and science into improved health for people who have high blood pressure. Research on this topic is part of our broader commitment to advancing scientific discovery in heart and vascular disease and health disparities and inequities research.
Learn about some of the pioneering research contributions we have made over the years that have improved clinical care.
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Treatment Of Secondary Hypertension
The cause of the high blood pressure is treated if possible. Treating kidney disease can sometimes return blood pressure to normal or at least lower it, so that antihypertensive therapy is more effective. A narrowed artery to the kidney may be widened by inserting a balloon-tipped catheter and inflating the balloon . Or the narrowed part of the artery supplying the kidney can be bypassed. Often such surgery cures high blood pressure. Tumors that cause high blood pressure, such as a pheochromocytoma, usually can be removed surgically.
If people still have high blood pressure despite taking three different drugs, doctors in Europe sometimes insert a catheter into the artery to each kidney. The catheter produces radio waves that destroy the sympathetic nerves along the renal arteries. The first studies on this procedure appeared to show that it lowered blood pressure. However, a much larger and more complete study did not show that the procedure worked. This treatment is not available in the United States.
Another treatment for high blood pressure is called pacemaker therapy. An electrode is implanted in the neck, where it stimulates certain nerve endings that help regulate blood pressure. This treatment is not available in the United States, but it is available in Europe and Canada.
Research For Your Health
The NHLBI is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Institutes of Health the Nations biomedical research agency that makes important scientific discovery to improve health and save lives. We are committed to advancing science and translating discoveries into clinical practice to promote the prevention and treatment of heart, lung, blood, and sleep disorders, including high blood pressure. Learn about the current and future NHLBI efforts to improve health through research and scientific discovery.
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High Systolic Blood Pressure
The heart muscle pushes out blood with higher pressure when a person is exercising, under stress, or at similar times when the heart rate is increased. The systolic pressure goes up with it.
In these cases, the increased pressure is normal. However, when the pressure is high while a person is resting, that’s considered high blood pressure.
That’s why it is so important to take your blood pressure during periods of quiet rest to diagnose hypertension, or high blood pressure.
High systolic blood pressure is usually caused by narrowing of the arteries, which makes the heart have to work harder to push blood through.
How Blood Flows Through The Body
Blood is pushed through the body by the action of the pumping heart. With each rhythmic pump, blood is pushed under high pressure and velocity away from the heart, initially along the main artery, the aorta. In the aorta, the blood travels at 30 cm/sec. As blood moves into the arteries, arterioles, and ultimately to the capillary beds, the rate of movement slows dramatically to about 0.026 cm/sec, one-thousand times slower than the rate of movement in the aorta. While the diameter of each individual arteriole and capillary is far narrower than the diameter of the aorta, and according to the law of continuity, fluid should travel faster through a narrower diameter tube, the rate is actually slower due to the overall diameter of all the combined capillaries being far greater than the diameter of the individual aorta.
Varicose veins are veins that become enlarged because the valves no longer close properly, allowing blood to flow backward. Varicose veins are often most prominent on the legs. Why do you think this is the case?
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What Is Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring
If a doctor recommends ambulatory blood pressure monitoring, you will need to wear a blood pressure cuff for 24 hours. It’s connected to a small, portable measuring device that automatically measures your blood pressure at set times and records the readings.
Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring is used, for example, to see whether blood pressure levels vary greatly over the course of the day and night or whether they are constantly elevated. During those 24 hours, you can do all of the usual things you would otherwise do over the course of the day. If you are especially active at certain times, you can make a note in a diary. Then the doctor has a better idea of how to interpret the recorded values when evaluating them.
Invasive Or Noninvasive Arterial Pressure Monitoring
Arterial pressure is a key determinant of organ perfusion and is routinely measured in critically ill patients, either noninvasively or invasively. Noninvasive measurements can reliably be used in less severely ill patients but are unfortunately less reliable in patients with shock, when accuracy of measurements is most important.9 For example, an overestimate of 510 mm Hg will have minimal impact on patient management if real mean arterial pressure is 80 mm Hg, but could have important consequences if MAP is 55 mm Hg. Hence invasive arterial pressure monitoring is recommended in patients with circulatory failure.5
George J. Crystal, Paul M. Heerdt, in, 2013
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The Roles Of Vessel Diameter And Total Area In Blood Flow And Blood Pressure
Recall that we classified arterioles as resistance vessels, because given their small lumen, they dramatically slow the flow of blood from arteries. In fact, arterioles are the site of greatest resistance in the entire vascular network. This may seem surprising, given that capillaries have a smaller size. How can this phenomenon be explained?
Figure 4 compares vessel diameter, total cross-sectional area, average blood pressure, and blood velocity through the systemic vessels. Notice in parts and that the total cross-sectional area of the bodys capillary beds is far greater than any other type of vessel. Although the diameter of an individual capillary is significantly smaller than the diameter of an arteriole, there are vastly more capillaries in the body than there are other types of blood vessels. Part shows that blood pressure drops unevenly as blood travels from arteries to arterioles, capillaries, venules, and veins, and encounters greater resistance. However, the site of the most precipitous drop, and the site of greatest resistance, is the arterioles. This explains why vasodilation and vasoconstriction of arterioles play more significant roles in regulating blood pressure than do the vasodilation and vasoconstriction of other vessels.
Figure 4. The relationships among blood vessels that can be compared include vessel diameter, total cross-sectional area, average blood pressure, and velocity of blood flow.
When Is My Blood Pressure Too High
Whether a persons individual blood pressure is so high that lowering it is necessary to prevent the development of pathological conditions does not merely depend on the blood pressure value. A persons individual medical history is the determining factor: for instance, persons at a greater risk of cardiovascular disease may already require treatment even for levels falling within the elevated-normal range.
If a case of high blood pressure goes untreated, the risk of cardiac insufficiency, heart attack, circulatory disorders, stroke, or kidney damage increase considerably. This is why blood pressure should be checked regularly at-risk groups are recommended to keep a blood pressure chart.
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The Body’s Control Of Blood Pressure
The body has many mechanisms to control blood pressure. The body can change the
Amount of blood the heart pumps
Diameter of arteries
Volume of blood in the bloodstream
To increase blood pressure, the heart can pump more blood by pumping more forcefully or more rapidly. Small arteries can narrow , forcing the blood from each heartbeat through a narrower space than normal. Because the space in the arteries is narrower, the same amount of blood passing through them increases the blood pressure. Veins can constrict to reduce their capacity to hold blood, forcing more blood into the arteries. As a result, blood pressure increases. Fluid can be added to the bloodstream to increase blood volume and thus increase blood pressure.
To decrease blood pressure, the heart can pump less forcefully or rapidly, arterioles and veins can widen , and fluid can be removed from the bloodstream.
These mechanisms are controlled by the sympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system and by the kidneys. The sympathetic division uses several means to temporarily increase blood pressure during the fight-or-flight response .
Angiotensin II helps increase blood pressure by
Causing the arterioles to constrict
Triggering the sympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system
Triggering the release of two other hormones, aldosterone and vasopressin , which cause the kidneys to increase the retention of sodium and water
How Is High Blood Pressure Controlled
These steps can help you control your blood pressure:
Take prescribed medicine exactly as directed by your healthcare provider
Choose foods that are low in sodium
Choose foods low in calories and fat
Choose foods high in fiber
Maintain a healthy weight, or losing weight if overweight
Limit serving sizes
Increase physical activity
Reduce or omit alcoholic beverages
Sometimes daily medicine is needed to control high blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, have your blood pressure checked routinely and see your healthcare provider to monitor the condition.
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What Is A Blood Pressure Chart
The blood pressure chart is a way to document the readings a person has taken themselves. Because blood pressure fluctuates over the course of the day, the blood pressure chart is used to record both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, along with the date and time of the measurement. The pulse should also be recorded to provide additional information.
It allows self-monitoring of blood pressure and can help an attending doctor to better assess the values in the long term, improving the precision of the diagnosis.
How Blood Pressure Is Measured
Hypertension can be mild, moderate or severe. Your blood pressure is naturally higher when you are exerting yourself, such as during physical exercise. It is only a concern if your blood pressure is high when you are at rest, because this means your heart is overworked and your arteries have extra stress in their walls.Blood pressure readings are a combination of two measurements. These are:
- Systolic is the highest pressure against the arteries as the heart pumps. The normal systolic pressure is usually between 110 and 130mmHg.
- Diastolic is the pressure against the arteries as the heart relaxes and fills with blood. The normal diastolic pressure is usually between 70 and 80mmHg.
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