What Do The Readings Mean
As a general guide:
140/90mmHg or over you may have high blood pressureMost doctors use 140/90mmHg as the cut off for point for diagnosing high blood pressure . This is the point where your risk of serious health problems goes up. They might prescribe medications and advise you to make changes to your lifestyle to bring your blood pressure down. 120/80mmHg up to 140/90mmHg pre-high blood pressureAlso called high-normal blood pressure. This is not high blood pressure, but it is a little higher than it should be and means you could go on to develop high blood pressure. See how you can make healthy changes to your lifestyle to lower it. 90/60mmHg up to 120/80mmHg ideal blood pressureAlso called normal blood pressure. Your blood pressure reading is healthy. At this level you have a much lower risk of heart disease and stroke. Following a healthy lifestyle will help you to keep it in the healthy range. 90/60mmHg or lower you may have low blood pressureLow blood pressure usually isnt a problem, but it can sometimes make you feel faint or dizzy or could be a sign of another health problem.
The video below explains how your blood pressure numbers are linked to the risk of stroke and other disease.
Why Is High Blood Pressure Dangerous
Why Is Hypertension Dangerous?
High blood pressure means the heart has to work excessively hard to pump blood through the arteries in the body. Some variations in blood pressure are normal and unavoidable, even in women in top health. But when blood pressure is persistently and abnormally high, serious damage can be caused to vital organs including the heart, brain and kidneys. Hypertension is caused by the arteries becoming narrower as their wall muscles thicken , making it more difficult for blood to flow through them. The result is that the heart has to work harder to produce more pressure than is normally needed to keep up a steady and adequate flow of blood around the body. This extra pressure can eventually damage the artery walls if it is prolonged, possibly speeding up the process of atherosclerosis, in which fatty deposits, or plaques, form on the lining of artery walls. This may cause a further narrowing of the arteries and increase the possibility of blood clotting.
The Dangers Of High Blood Pressure
Measuring Blood Pressure
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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Myth #: Most People With High Blood Pressure Experience Symptoms Such As Headaches Nosebleeds Or Dizziness
Fact: HBP is called a silent killer because it often causes no symptoms as it slowly damages blood vessels and vital organs, including the heart, brain and kidneys. One study found that people with higher systolic blood pressure were less likely to experience headaches than those with healthier blood pressure, perhaps because HBP stiffens blood vessels, which may damage nerve endings and reduce pain, the American Heart Association reports.
A study of patients hospitalized for hypertensive crisisa medical emergency in which systolic pressure is 180 or higher or diastolic pressure is 110 or higherfound that only 17 percent of these patients suffered nosebleeds. In some cases, hypertensive crisis may also cause dizziness, severe anxiety or shortness of breath.
The AHA recommends having your blood pressure checked at least once every two years, or more often if advises by your medical provider.
Will High Blood Pressure Effect My Chances Of Getting Pregnant
Women who improve their heart health before pregnancy can reduce their medical risks later. This proactive approach can lower the likelihood of pregnancy complications. If youre considering becoming pregnant, talk to your health care team about healthy changes you can make to help both you and your baby be healthier.
Doctors and researchers have found a link between birth control pills and an increase in blood pressure among some women. They say that it is more likely to occur in women who are overweight, have kidney disease or have a family history of high blood pressure.
Learn more about pregnancy and maternal health, including information on being healthy before, during and after a pregnancy.
Written by American Heart Association editorial staff and reviewed by science and medicine advisers. See our editorial policies and staff.
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The Blood Pressure Chart
Once you know your numbers, you can use the blood pressure chart to see what they mean and if your blood pressure is in the healthy range. The chart is suitable for adults of any age, as the cut-off point for diagnosing high blood pressure doesnt change with age.
How to use the blood pressure chart
Simply find your top number on the left side of the chart and your bottom number on the bottom. Where the two lines meet is your blood pressure.
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How To Lower Blood Pressure
Try to breathe as deeply as possible with increased pressure. It is believed that this will allow the body to quickly get rid of stress, which is most often the cause of high blood pressure. Deep breathing helps blood to reach all tissues of the body, due to which the pressure on the walls can be noticeably reduced. As a result, blood pressure readings will decrease, as will the risk of other problems.
It is also recommended to immerse your hands or feet in a hot water bath at high pressure. We are not talking about boiling water, so if the water temperature reaches 45 degrees Celsius, everything is fine. A hot bath helps because it dilates blood vessels. And the blood cannot press on the dilated vessels as much as on the narrow ones. As a result, unpleasant symptoms should quickly disappear.
What kind of drinks help with high blood pressure is written below.
This may sound contradictory, but cold water can also save you from high pressure. If you hold your hands under a stream of cold, but not ice-cold water, the heart rate should noticeably decrease, and the person’s well-being should improve.
You can also try cucumber dishes to lower your blood pressure. And that’s why.
They also say that warm tea with mint and valerian are excellent for high blood pressure. Cooled mint tea contains substances that can reduce pressure on blood vessels. And valerian simply relieves stress, which, as we said, provokes an increase in blood pressure.
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Heart And Artery Damage
- High blood pressure can cause microscopic tears in your artery walls. These tears turn into scar tissue. The scar tissue creates rough walls, collecting cholesterol, platelets, fats, and plaque. This narrows and hardens the arteries
- Damaged and hardened arteries can limit the amount of blood your organs get, causing them to not work as well as they should
- Pieces of the deposits left in the arteries due to scar tissue can break off, causing blood clots that flow through the bloodstream until they get stuck in a small space. This can block the blood supply to part of your heart or brain, causing a heart attack or stroke
- The heart has to work harder to pump blood through damaged arteries. This can make it thicker and larger. The damaged heart works less effectively, so the rest of your organs may not get all the blood they need
- When the heart doesn’t get as much blood as it needs, you could develop anginauncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing, or pain in the center of the chest. People with angina usually feel their symptoms when walking up a hill, climbing stairs, or doing other sorts of physical activity
- Narrowing of the arteries to your legs, stomach, arms, and head, called peripheral artery disease , can cause cramping, pain, or tiredness mostly in the leg and hip muscles. People with PAD also have a much higher risk of heart attack or stroke
How Can You Manage Your High Blood Pressure
Treatment of high blood pressure often starts with lifestyle changes, including decreasing salt in your diet, losing weight if necessary, stopping smoking, cutting down on alcohol use, and regular exercise.
In addition to lifestyle changes, medications are often used to lower blood pressure. There are several types of medications that treat high blood pressure with each type of medication having benefits and risks that should be carefully weighed by you and your health care provider. Most people take more than one medication in order to bring their blood pressure down to their treatment goal.
Your blood pressure medication should begin to work within days. However, because high blood pressure is a long-lasting medical condition that often has little or no symptoms, remembering to take your medications can be a challenge. Combination medicines, long-acting or once-a-day medications, may be used to decrease the burden of taking numerous medications and help ensure medications regularly. Once started, the medication should be used until your doctor tells you to stop.
Controlling your blood pressure should be part of a healthy living plan and lifelong task. The damage that high blood pressure causes your internal organs does not cause any symptoms until serious damage has been done.
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Why High Blood Pressure Can Be So Dangerous
By | Submitted On August 11, 2006
We all know that high blood pressure is considered serious by the doctor. But not many of us know why. The truth of the matter is this: high blood pressure, left unchecked, can have serious consequences. The dangers can range from vision problems to ulcers to an outright stroke.
The higher your blood pressure, the higher your risk of heart disease and stroke. Someone with blood pressure of 120/80 mmHg is at greater risk than someone with blood pressure of 110/70 mmHg. It’s as simple as that. How does this impact your heart? When the heart is forced to overwork for an extended period of time, it tends to enlarge. A slightly enlarged heart can function well, but a significantly enlarged heart cannot.
In fact, high blood pressure is the number one risk factor for congestive heart failure, a serious condition in which the heart is unable to pump enough blood to supply the body’s needs. The result of the heart’s inability to pump enough blood can be kidney damage or even a stroke.
As for strokes, high blood pressure is a leading risk factor here as well. When a blood clot blocks one of the narrowed arteries, stroke can easily be the end result. And when if blood pressure becomes so high that it causes a break in one of the weakened blood vessels, which then bleeds into the brain, stroke is nearly unavoidable.
A few more dangerous effects of high blood pressure you should note …
Lowering Systolic Blood Pressure More May Cut Health Risks
One major study found that lowering systolic blood pressure to well below the commonly recommended level also greatly lowered the number of cardiovascular events and deaths among people at least 50 years old with high blood pressure.
When study participants achieved a systolic blood pressure target of 120 mmHg compared to the higher target of 140 mmHg recommended for most people, and 150 for people over 60 issues such as heart attack, stroke and heart failure were reduced by almost one-third, and the risk of death by almost one-fourth.
“That’s important information, because more lives may be saved and more deaths may be prevented if we maintain lower blood pressure in certain patients,” says Lynne Braun, NP, PhD, a nurse practitioner at the Rush Heart Center for Women.
Braun cautions, however, that your personal blood pressure target depends on a variety of things, including your current blood pressure, lifestyle, risk factors, other medications you are taking and your age. “Every person has to be evaluated as an individual,” she says. “Realistically, we can’t get everybody down to 120, and trying to do so may create unintended problems.”
It can be dangerous, for instance, to keep an older person on medications that have unsafe side effects, such as diuretics , which can cause dehydration and dizziness in older adults.
And there can be other issues involved with taking multiple medications, such as cost and compliance.
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Hypertensive Crisis: When You Should Call 911 For 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
An elevated reading may or may not be accompanied by one or more of the following symptoms:
- Severe headache
- Severe anxiety
What Does It Mean If You Fall Into The New Guidelines
With these new guidelines, it is estimated that about 14 percent of people will now be classified as having hypertension many of those individuals may be younger. However, only a small percentage will require intervention by medication. Individuals who now fall into a hypertensive category will receive more aggressive prevention interventions, like lifestyle changes.
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Can Hypertension Cause Other Problems
When your blood pressure is too high for too long, it damages your blood vessels and LDL cholesterol begins to accumulate along tears in your artery walls. This increases the workload of your circulatory system while decreasing its efficiency.
As a result, high blood pressure puts you at greater risk for developing life-changing and potentially life-threating conditions.
How To Lower Your Risk Of Hypertension
Unless your blood pressure is sky-high, guidelines suggest first trying non-medical ways to lower it. These include:
- Drinking less alcohol.
- Losing weight.
If these measures do not lower blood pressure far enough, or if youve had a heart attack or stroke or are at high risk for one, anti-hypertension medications will be needed. There are many types, so your doctor may try several differentkinds and doses until the right combination for you is found.
Hypertension doesnt often cause symptoms, which is why it is known as the silent killer. This gives some people a false sense of security. They dont understand why they need to make an effort to lower their blood pressure, says Dr. Laffin. Fortunately, patients who adopt these measures usually find their blood pressure drops, and with it, their risk of heart attack and stroke.
This article first appeared in Cleveland Clinic Heart Advisor.
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Developing A Healthy Diet
A heart-healthy diet is vital for helping to reduce high blood pressure. Its also important for managing hypertension that is under control and reducing the risk of complications. These complications include heart disease, stroke, and heart attack.
A heart-healthy diet emphasizes foods that include:
- lean proteins like fish
What Happens When You Have A Stroke
A stroke occurs when a blood vessel to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts . When that happens, part of the brain is no longer getting the blood and oxygen it needs, so it starts to die. Your brain controls your movement and thoughts, so a stroke doesn’t only hurt your brain it can threaten your ability to think, move and function. Strokes can affect language, memory and vision. Severe strokes may even cause paralysis or death.
A majority of strokes are ischemic strokes caused by narrowed or clogged blood vessels in the brain that cut off the blood flow to brain cells. Watch an interactive animation of an ischemic stroke.
A much smaller percentage of strokes are hemorrhagic strokes that occur when a blood vessel ruptures in or near the brain, resulting in a subarachnoid hemorrhage on the surface of the brain or intracerebral hemorrhage deep within the brain. View a detailed animation of a hemorrhagic stroke.
Dont let high blood pressure lead to stroke:
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Eat Less Meat More Plants
A plant-based diet is an easy way to increase fiber and reduce the amount of sodium and unhealthy saturated and trans fat you take in from dairy foods and meat. Increase the number of fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, and whole grains youre eating. Instead of red meat, opt for healthier lean proteins like fish, poultry, or tofu.