What Should I Do If I Have High Blood Pressure
If your healthcare provider has diagnosed you with high blood pressure, they will talk with you about your recommended blood pressure target or goal. They may suggest that you:
- Check your blood pressure regularly with a home blood pressure monitor. These are automated electronic monitors and are available at most pharmacies or online.
- Quit smoking and/or using tobacco products.
- Work on controlling anger and managing stress.
Maintain A Healthy Weight
Being overweight is a risk factor for having high blood pressure, and your risk increases further if you are obese.
There are two ways to check if you are overweight:
- Body Mass Index – This is your weight in kilograms divided by your height in metres squared. In the UK, people with a BMI of between 25 to 30 are overweight, and those with an index above 30 are classed as obese. People with a BMI of 40 or more are morbidly obese.
- Waist size – Using a measuring tape place the tape round your waist between the bottom of your ribs and the top of your hip bone. The table below indicates how much your health might be at risk, your ethnicity should also be taken into account.
|Over 80 cm
The best way to tackle obesity is by reducing the amount of calories that you eat, and taking regular exercise. Your GP can provide you with further information and advice on how you can do this.
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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.
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White Coat Hypertension: When Stress Spikes Blood Pressure
What is white coat hypertension? It is a condition in which your blood pressure is higher in a physician’s office, but is otherwise normal.
What makes your blood pressure go up in a doctors office? Most people say they are anxious or worried they may receive bad news. Or it may be the cost of their appointment or of medical care. Anxiety and stress are important causes of blood pressure elevation.
To take your blood pressure, ideally you should be seated and relaxed. And typically, once seated, you should wait three to five minutes before measuring your blood pressure. Then, the best practice is to take three measurements in each arm and average the readings.
Most of you are probably thinking that this never happens when you see a doctor, because most offices are busy and check people in quickly without taking the time to correctly measure your blood pressure. But if you go to a high blood pressure clinic, this process will sound familiar.
Our blood pressures all go up with activity and stress. In fact, we use blood pressure change as a measurement in cardiac stress tests. If your blood pressure goes down during stress, that usually is a sign of disease. So, if you are rushed into a clinic office and your blood pressure is taken immediately, it will probably be higher than expected. If this is the case, you can always ask that your blood pressure be retaken after you have had a chance to sit down for a few minutes.
What Causes Labile Hypertension
When labile hypertension is suspected, a 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitor may be used to confirm the diagnosis. Then the work of pinpointing the underlying cause begins. Serious detective work often is required. We look at the patients overall health, lifestyle and medications, says Dr. Lioudis.
When a medication or lifestyle choice is the precipitating factor, making appropriate changes can cause labile hypertension to disappear.
Underlying medical conditions are a bigger concern, since they may be harder to treat.
We look for sleep apnea, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease or a problem with the adrenal glands, as any of these can cause blood pressure to fluctuate,says Dr. Lioudis.
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How To Take Your Own Blood Pressure Effectively
When taking your own blood pressure, its important to take it the right way to get accurate results. When and how you take your own BP can affect your results. Blood-pressure monitoring tips include:
- Take it easy before taking your BP. Rest for at least five minutes before your first measurement. Dont smoke, drink caffeinated beverages or exercise for 30 minutes before taking your BP. Dont talk while taking your BP.
- Take your BP with an empty bladder.
- Sit correctly. Sit with your back straight and well-supported make sure not to cross your legs and keep your feet flat on the floor.
- Position your arm correctly. Keep your upper arm at heart level. The way to do this will be a little different depending on whether youre using a wrist or upper-arm monitor, so follow the instructions for your device. Dont place blood pressure cuffs over your sleeves
- Measure at the same time every day. Many doctors will recommend taking your BP in the morning and evening. Dont take your BP right after you wake up.
- Take more than one reading and track your results. Take two or three readings about one minute apart. Some OMRON devices do this automatically and then give you an average of your readings. Take your monitor with you to doctor appointments. Some monitors called, wireless or connected, will allow you to store, track and share your results with your doctor from your mobile device.
Why You Should Pay Attention To Your Blood Pressure
Hypertension can wreak havoc on the body before alarming symptoms appear. Thats why regular checkups are a must.
Sometimes, Dr. Lioudis asks patients to check their blood pressure at different times of the day. Its the only way to spot masked hypertension. People with this condition have normal blood pressure in the doctors office, but high blood pressure at home.
We cant do anything for hypertension unless we know it exists, he says. Thats why we advise everyone to have their pressures checked at least yearly. They should also talk with their family doctor about stress, heart or kidney disease, family history of high blood pressure and any other potential contributing factor. By working together, you can bring your blood pressure under control.
This article originally appeared in Cleveland Clinic Heart Advisor.
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The Effect Of Sleep On Blood Pressure
Sleep causes a fall in blood pressure. The maximum depth occurs about two hours after falling asleep. In sound, untroubled slumber a pressure of 130/80 might dip to 100/70. It once was thought that this drop in pressure was the cause of sleep, the reasoning being that a lower pressure delivers less blood to the brain resulting in mental sluggishness and hence sleep.
Now it is known that this blood pressure decline is the result, not the cause, of sleep. As morning approaches, the blood pressure drifts slowly upward as the subject begins the awakening process. Any interference with sound sleep causes the blood pressure to rise.
Why Does My Blood Pressure Drop After Exercise
Sometimes after a workout, blood can pool in the extremities, which results in less blood returning to the heart and a decrease in blood pressure. Also, the blood vessels near the skin surface widen to help release heat, causing a drop in blood pressure as well. Let your healthcare provider know if you feel dizzy or lightheaded during exercise, as it could indicate an underlying condition.
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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.
How High Is Too High For Blood Pressure
Although the term labile hypertension means blood pressure that fluctuates more than usual, the term actually has no official definition. Theres no line that must be crossed no minimum blood pressure reading or number of spikes necessary to make the diagnosis.
The term simply indicates a situation where blood pressure is rising beyond whats considered normal and acceptable for an individual.
Most times, these people have reasonable blood pressure control, says Dr. Lioudis. Yet they have periods when they may experience facial flushing, tension headaches, sweating or feelings of unease. When they check their blood pressure, its high.
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Quitting Smoking And Limiting Alcohol
If youre a smoker and have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, your doctor will most likely advise you to quit. The chemicals in tobacco smoke can damage the bodys tissues and harden blood vessel walls.
If you regularly consume too much alcohol or have an alcohol dependency, seek help to reduce the amount you drink or stop altogether. Drinking alcohol in excess can raise blood pressure.
If you have risk factors for hypertension, you can take steps now to lower your risk for the condition and its complications.
Blood Pressure And Ageing
With advancing years, the arteries tend to become more rigid . This may change a persons blood pressure pattern, with a higher systolic pressure and a lower diastolic pressure. The higher systolic pressure is important because it can further accelerate the rigidity of the arteries. This state is referred to as isolated systolic hypertension. Although these changes are due to ageing, this is not a normal state and may need medication to control the systolic pressures.
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Symptoms Of Sudden High Blood Pressure
Unlike traditional high blood pressure, where there are no visual symptoms until major damage has occurred, sudden high blood pressure alerts you immediately.
- Weakness or numbness in arms, legs, face
- Mentality changes such as anxiety, fatigue, confusion, restlessness
In extreme cases of sudden high blood pressure, there may be bleeding from damaged blood vessels, blindness from ruptured retina nerves or vessels, and possibly seizures.
Ask The Doctor: Why Does My Blood Pressure Rise In The Afternoon
Q. I am a 50-year-old woman with newly diagnosed high blood pressure. As diets go, mine is definitely on the healthy side. I do not exercise at a health club, but I do a lot of housecleaning and gardening, and I do walk a fair amount, which I feel is equal to what I would accomplish at a health club. I weigh 150 pounds and my height is 5 feet, 6 inches. I take Toprol-XL. My blood pressure seems to be normal in the morning, averaging 121/74, but in the afternoon the upper number is often in the 140s to 150s. Is it normal for blood pressure to rise like this as the day goes on, especially while on a medication?
A. It’s great that you are paying close attention to your blood pressure readings. Beta blockers like metoprolol are not great medications for lowering blood pressure when used all by themselves. So, as the day goes on, and you eat and exert yourself physically, my guess is that the metoprolol is just not strong enough to control your blood pressure. One option is to switch to another medication, such as a diuretic or an ACE inhibitor. If your doctor thinks you need the beta blocker for some other cardiac condition, adding a diuretic or ACE inhibitor to the beta blocker makes sense. In fact, combining low doses of medications that fight high blood pressure in different ways is probably a more effective way to do it than with a high dose of a single medication.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Hypertension
Hypertension is generally a silent condition. Many people wont experience any symptoms. It may take years or even decades for the condition to reach levels severe enough that symptoms become obvious. Even then, these symptoms may be attributed to other issues.
of severe hypertension can include:
According to the American Heart Association , contrary to popular thought, severe hypertension doesnt typically cause nosebleeds or headaches except when someone is in hypertensive crisis.
The best way to know if you have hypertension is to get regular blood pressure readings. Most doctors offices take a blood pressure reading at every appointment.
If you only have a yearly physical, talk with your doctor about your risks for hypertension and other readings you may need to help you watch your blood pressure.
For example, if you have a family history of heart disease or have risk factors for developing the condition, your doctor may recommend that you have your blood pressure checked twice a year. This helps you and your doctor stay on top of any possible issues before they become problematic.
There are two types of hypertension. Each type has a different cause.
Primary High Blood Pressure
While the specific cause of primary high blood pressure remains unknown, there is compelling evidence to suggest that a number of risk factors increase your chances of developing the condition.
These risk factors include:
- age – the risk of developing high blood pressure increases as you get older
- a family history of high blood pressure – the condition seems to run in families
- being of Afro-Caribbean or South Asian origin
- high-fat diet
- high amount of salt in your diet
- lack of exercise
- excessive alcohol consumption
A number of health conditions, such as diabetes and kidney disease, have also been linked to an increase risk of developing primary high blood pressure.
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Reasons Your Blood Pressure Fluctuates
If you are seeing regular fluctuations in your blood pressure readings, youre not alone. Some variation in your blood pressure throughout the day is normal. In fact, there are a number of reasons for this including small changes in daily life, such as stress, exercise or even how well you slept the night before.
According to the American Heart Association , there are more than 116 million adults in the U.S. with high blood pressure. Recently, the U.S. Surgeon General, VADM Jerome Adams, released a for hypertension control to make it a national public health priority. Experts have called for monitoring your blood pressure at home because it is a great way to gain a better understanding of your numbers.
Knowing and regularly measuring your can help you see irregularities that you want to call to your doctors attention. Keeping track of your numbers may help your doctor determine a course of action or treatment. If variances in your blood pressure readings exist, it is important to know that there are some factors you can controlbut some you cant. Lets look at some of the reasons that may cause your blood pressure to fluctuate.
How Can I Control My Blood Pressure
You can often lower your blood pressure by changing your day-to-day habits and by taking medication if needed. Treatment, especially if you have other medical conditions such as diabetes, requires ongoing evaluation and discussions with your doctor.
Lifestyle changes you can make to help prevent and lower high blood pressure:
In addition to recommending lifestyle changes, your doctor will likely prescribe medication to lower your blood pressure to a safe level. Isolated systolic hypertension, the most common form of high blood pressure in older adults, is treated in the same way as regular high blood pressure but may require more than one type of blood pressure medication. You may try several kinds or combinations of medications before finding a plan that works best for you. Medication can control your blood pressure, but it can’t cure it. If your doctor starts you on medication for high blood pressure, you may need to take it long-term.
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How Is High Blood Pressure Treated
If high blood pressure is due to a condition like kidney disease or lung disease, treating it might be enough to get the blood pressure back to normal.
Doctors also might recommend lifestyle changes. If you have hypertension, your doctor might want you to:
Eat a healthy diet:
- Eat more fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy.
- Limit salt.
- Avoid alcohol.
Get regular exercise:
- Try to exercise for 3060 minutes at least 3 times a week. But teens with severe hypertension should not do any weightlifting or power-lifting, bodybuilding, or strength training until their blood pressure is under control and a doctor says it’s OK.
- People with high blood pressure should not smoke, and their home and car should be smoke-free.
If diet and exercise changes do not improve the blood pressure, doctors may prescribe medicine.