What Is High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure means that there is higher than normal pressure inside the arteries either during systole , or during diastole .
If the pressure is high during the pumping phase , then the first number recorded with a blood pressure reading will be high.
If the pressure is high during the relaxation phase , then the second number recorded will be high.
High blood pressure is also called hypertension.
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:
What Is Blood Pressure
Our powerful heart can pump about five liters of blood per minute. Blood pressure is the amount of force the blood puts on our blood vessel walls. The two numbers in a blood pressure reading measure the force as the heart contracts and the force when the heart relaxes . By monitoring these figures, we can prevent serious health issues.
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Measuring Ambulatory Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can also be diagnosed through a special device called an ambulatory blood pressure monitor. A doctor, nurse or pharmacist will get you to wear the device for a full day. The device measures blood pressure every 20 to 30 minutes and gives the doctor an average of your blood pressures during the day and while you are sleeping. These devices are not available everywhere and can be uncomfortable to wear.
Ask The Doctor: Erratic Blood Pressure Readings
Q.I check my blood pressure at home regularly. My readings are all over the place and different from the reading at my most recent doctor visit. Why is my blood pressure so erratic?
A. There can be many reasons for erratic blood pressure readings. For one thing, blood pressure naturally fluctuates over the course of a day. It is generally lowest when you’re sleeping and peaks during the day. If you check your blood pressure at different times, you may be seeing that natural variation. Blood pressure is also affected by physical activity, eating, caffeine, and stress.
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Limb Not Adequality Positionned
Errors in the readings and the pumping process could also appear if the arm is not properly positioned relative to the heart. The Blood Pressure Monitor should be at the heart level, and you should ideally be still and seated. This is especially important with wrist blood pressure monitors. You will need to raise your arm to reach the heart level slightly.
Potential Danger Of Fluctuating Blood Pressure
A recent cohort study of 1,000 Chinese men and women suggested that fluctuating blood pressure in the elderly between doctors visits can lead to decreased functioning of the brain. Findings were based on the China Health and Nutrition Survey, and followed 976 older adults who had three or more visits with blood pressure measurements from 1991 up to their first cognitive tests, and completed follow up cognitive tests at two or more visits in 1997, 2000, or 2004.
Researchers note that more studies and clinical trials need to be done, but early findings showed an association between higher long-term blood pressure fluctuations and faster rates of cognitive decline.
Controlling BP instability could possibly be a strategy in preserving cognitive function among older adults, researchers wrote in the study published in the journal Hypertension by the American Heart Association.
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What Causes Fluctuations In Blood Pressure
Your heart works to ensure that your five or so liters of blood continue to pump throughout your body. Blood pressure is the force that your blood exerts onto the walls of blood vessels, and doctors measure it to determine how healthy your blood vessels and heart are. It is normal to experience some variation in your blood pressure throughout the day, but extreme changes may indicate another issue that should be checked out. Most people won’t notice any symptoms with their fluctuating blood pressure, making it challenging to detect them. Here the article will help you find out if your blood pressure is swinging and what you can do.
How Is Fluctuating Blood Pressure Treated
First, a doctor will determine the underlying cause. They will ask about a persons history and discuss their lifestyle and current medications. The doctor may also order or conduct tests.
Medications can lower blood pressure and prevent dangerous fluctuations. A person may also be able to achieve this goal by making changes to their lifestyle.
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Treatment For High Blood Pressure
Specific treatment for high blood pressure will be determined by your child’s doctor based on:
Your child’s age, overall health, and medical history
Extent of the condition
Your child’s tolerance to specific medications, procedures, or treatments
Expectations for the course of the condition
Your opinion or preference
If a secondary cause has been found, such as kidney disease, the underlying disease will be treated. If no cause has been determined, the first treatment approach is lifestyle therapy, including the following:
Increasing physical activity
These interventions can lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure, improve the strength of the heart, and lower blood cholesterol. These are all important steps in preventing heart disease as an adult.
Medications to control high blood pressure are only needed in about 1 percent of children with the disorder. Consult your child’s doctor for more information.
Buying A Blood Pressure Instrument To Measure Your Blood Pressure At Home
Blood pressure instruments can be purchased in most pharmacies. Buy a blood pressure instrument that has been approved by the Association for the Advancement in Medical Instrumentation , the British Hypertension Society or the International Protocol . These labels will be marked clearly on the box. If you are unsure whether an instrument is approved, ask your pharmacist for help. Once you have bought the instrument, ask your doctor or pharmacist to check it to make sure the instrument measures your blood pressure accurately.
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What Causes High Blood Pressure
The cause of high blood pressure, or hypertension, is often unknown. It develops over time and often happens as a result of unhealthy lifestyle choices, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .
Occasionally, some people have hypertension caused by an underlying condition, such as kidney disease, adrenal gland tumors or thyroid disorders, says Dr. Wong. Other conditions like pregnancy, diabetes and obesity can also increase your risk.
Some people are susceptible to high blood pressure from certain medications, such as birth control pills, some decongestants and even some over-the-counter pain relievers, says Wong. Illicit drugs, such as cocaine and amphetamines may also raise blood pressure.
High blood pressure is extremely common. A 2017 to 2018 survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics found 45.5% of U.S. adults have hypertensionOstchega Y, et al. Hypertension prevalence among adults aged 18 and over: United States, 2017-2018. National Center for Health Statistics. Accessed 7/16/2021. .
So Whats The Best Time To Measure Blood Pressure
Theres no one best time to measure blood pressure. The best practice would be to have it monitored several times a day. A common approach is to measure it twice daily: one time in the morning, before eating or taking medications , and the second time in the evening. If youre having your blood pressure measured at a medical facility, the doctor or nurse can advise you.
Another important tidbit is that loss of the normal fall in blood pressure at night is associated with a greater future risk of cardiovascular disease. There is some evidence that nighttime blood pressure is a stronger predictor than daytime blood pressure, but this is unclear. Blood pressure also varies over longer time periods and this variability is useful in predicting adverse outcomes.
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Why Does My Blood Pressure Monitor Inflate Twice
Home blood pressure monitors have changed the way millions of patients deal with COPD or Hypertension. Considering that you use an FDA-cleared device from a reputable brand, the readings should be accurate and reliable. Somehow, automatic blood pressure monitors can sometimes inflate twice and even reach a level of inflation that can become painful.
In this article, we will explain why you may feel that your precious device is acting weird. In most cases, the issues will be easy to resolve. But first, let dig a little bit into the technology and principles at the core of automated blood pressure devices.
When The Problem Is Autonomic Dysfunction
In labile hypertension, blood pressure tends to spike upwards. Blood pressure that swings in both directions may be a sign of a different problem called autonomic dysfunction.
People with this problem have difficulty regulating involuntary functions such as heart rate, breathing and body temperature, in addition to blood pressure. We usually send these patients to cardiology for testing, says Dr. Lioudis.
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Can These Fluctuations Affect My Tension Measurements
Absolutely. Readings in healthcare settings are typically regarded as the average blood pressure of a person, but thats not necessarily true. As weve seen, blood pressure can fluctuate significantly over the 24-hour-cycle, and also depending on where you measure it.
Some people have whats known as white-coat hypertension: their blood pressure spikes when theyre in a doctors office. Others have masked hypertension: the opposite phenomenon, where their pressure is high at home, but drops at the doctors.
This is why more and more physicians are recommending regular home monitoring to get a more relevant baseline for a persons blood tension.
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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How Long Should You Wait Between Blood Pressure Readings In A Row
When taking multiple blood pressure readings in a row, there should be one minute between each reading. The one-minute rest prevents prolonged compression of the blood pressure cuff on your blood vessels and skin. In addition, it allows your body to relax again while waiting for the next measurement.
Im sure youve heard how you should have five minutes of quiet time before measuring your blood pressure 3. Its important to note, during the minute breaks between readings, you should be practicing the same quiet time.
During the one minute, dont perform other activities to help pass the time. I know it can be time consuming to sit in a chair quietly for about 10 minutes in total time. That includes the five minutes before measuring, the time it takes the monitor to measure and the one minute rests in between. Remaining calm and quiet for the whole time is important for the process.
Why Is My Tension High In The Morning Sometimes
Blood pressure tends to be relatively low after waking up, but for some people, it can be abnormally high in the mornings. Doctors refer to this as morning hypertension.
People who have morning hypertension may be at risk of cardiovascular problems. A 2010 review notes that stroke and other serious cardiac events are most likely to happen in the first 46 hours after waking. However, this could also be caused by other factors such as medication and sleep apnea. You should always consult your physician if you are concerned about morning hypertension.
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Measuring Your Blood Pressure At Home
You can also diagnose yourself with hypertension by measuring your blood pressure at home. If readings are high over two visits at the doctors office, and if your blood pressure is higher than 135/85 mmHg when properly measured at home, then the diagnosis of hypertension can be made. This requires you to measure your blood pressure twice a day, in the morning and evening, for one week. Pay no attention to the measurements from the first day. Measuring blood pressure at home requires accurate equipment and proper measuring techniques. Measure the blood pressure of others in your house their blood pressure may also be high.
Why Is High Blood Pressure A Concern
High blood pressure, or hypertension, directly increases the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke . With high blood pressure, the arteries may have an increased resistance against the flow of blood, causing the heart to pump harder to circulate the blood.
Heart attack and stroke related to high blood pressure are rare in children and adolescents. Yet, studies of young adults with high blood pressure found that many had high blood pressure as a child. By their 20s, studies show that children and adolescents with high blood pressure will exhibit harmful effects on the heart and blood vessels even with mild hypertension.
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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.
Should The First Blood Pressure Reading Be Discarded
If you prepared properly for your blood pressure measurements, the first reading should be undiscarded. All blood pressure readings should be recorded and shown to your physician. Blood pressure should be based on an average of readings from two or more occasions.
Sometimes people dont prepare properly for the first reading like skipping the five minutes of quiet time. In this situation the first reading wouldnt be a true indication and shouldnt have been taken in the first place.
Even though youre taking two or three measurements youll probably get different blood pressure readings within minutes 4. If you followed all the steps listed above, the readings shouldnt differ too much. Record all the readings in the following manner:
- On your monitor if it keeps a record for you.
- On your BP phone app. My monitor connects to my phone BP app and transmits all the readings to my phone. It keeps track of the readings, dates and times. It also organizes them into handy charts and allows me to email them to my physician. I absolutely love this feature, and its included with the monitor! My monitor is made by Welch Allyn, you can read my complete, detailed review by clicking here, Welch Allyn 1700 Series Home Monitor.
- You can also jot it down on paper or a blood pressure log. It doesnt really matter how you record them, as long as you do.
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Errors And Mistakes Taking Blood Pressure
There are many errors people make while measuring their blood pressure that can cause your readings to fluctuate . The different readings can occur between your morning and evening measurements, or even minutes apart from each other. The following are the most common:
- Crossed legs can elevate blood pressure.
- Failure to sit upright can raise your blood pressure.
- Sitting with your back unsupported can increase your measurements.
- Arm position, which changes the height of the cuff, can raise or lower your BP. Even when arm position is perfect, making one mistake can raise BP by 10%. Read about that mistake in my blog post, Effect Of Arm Position On Blood Pressure.
- Failure to have 5 minutes of quiet time prior to measuring.
- Distractions while measuring like talking, texting, watching Tv, browsing social media and similar common activities.
- As mentioned earlier, measuring BP with a full bladder.
- Making your cuff too tight or loose can cause inconsistent readings.
- Wrapping the cuff around clothing and not on your bare arm.
- Failure to take 2 to 3 readings and average them together.
- Using an inaccurate home monitor. To determine if your home monitor is accurate, read how in my blog post, right here.
- Smoking, drinking caffeine or exercising within 30 minutes of taking your measurement.
- Failure to take your blood pressure the same times every day.
- Taking a hot or cold bath within 20 minutes of measuring your BP.