Health Risks Of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure means your top number is 130 or higher or your bottom number is 80 or higher. For most people, hypertension is caused by aging or lifestyle factors tied to heart health . For others, it could be the result of another health condition, such as sleep apnea or thyroid issues, or even certain medications.
Whatever the cause, high blood pressure doesn’t usually have any symptoms, which isn’t a good thing. Hypertension is often called the “silent killer” because it can lead to heart attack, stroke and coronary artery disease, among other conditions, with little to no warning.
When Blood Pressure Is Too Low
Whether blood pressure is too low has more to do with how you feel than the measured number. A blood pressure of 90/60 mmHG may be normal for someone young and healthy, but may cause symptoms of lightheadedness or weakness in an older patient or someone with other health conditions, Dr. Courson says.
Cause: Standing For Long Periods
After you’re on your feet for a while, blood can start to pool in your legs. If your brain doesn’t tell your heart to pump enough to keep your blood pressure up, it might drop low enough to make you dizzy and nauseous. You might even pass out. Your doctor might call this “neurally mediated hypotension.” Like a bad relationship, the problem is poor communication, in this case, between the heart and brain.
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Low Blood Pressure
The first and most common symptom that your blood pressure is too low, Dr. Lajoie says, is lightheadedness and fainting. Some people also feel fatigue with low blood pressure.
The most common reason to become dizzy or faint is that the systolic blood pressure is temporarily too low to allow adequate blood flow to the brain. “This usually occurs when the systolic pressure is less than 80,” Dr. Lajoie explains.
According to the AHA, low blood pressure can also cause the following symptoms:
What Puts People With Diabetes At A Higher Risk Of Bouts Of Low Blood Pressure
Diabetes and age-related changes can result in damage to your nerves involved in monitoring blood pressure as well as your reflexes that help constrict blood vessels and increase heart rate to compensate for standing up or eating a meal. Your nerve sensors in your arteries that monitor blood pressure may not work as effectively if you have diabetes especially if you have poor blood sugar control making them more prone to a drastic drop in blood pressure.
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What Is Low Blood Pressure/hypotension
Low blood pressure or hypotension is a condition where the systolic and diastolic pressure falls below 90 and 60 respectively. Blood pressure is usually measured in millimetres of mercury, and normal blood pressure is usually slightly less than 120/80 mm Hg.
To have low blood pressure is not always a concern however, chronic hypotension can cause a lack of blood flow to the brain, causing dizziness, blackouts or loss of consciousness, and may even be life-threatening in severe cases.
More often, low blood pressure is a symptom of a different concern, such as plaque build-up, a heart disorder or aging related medical conditions, making it necessary to pay attention to signs of low blood pressure in its initial stages.
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Blood Pressure Monitoring Tips
In order to monitor your blood pressure level, you need to run regular tests. This could include visiting your doctors office, a retail health clinic, or purchasing an at-home monitor. If youre planning to monitor your blood pressure at home, remember these things:
- Avoid certain habits: Dont smoke, drink caffeinated beverages, or exercise 30 minutes before measuring your blood pressure.
- Proper posture: For the most adequate reading, sit with your back straight and supported, keeping your feet flat on the floor and arm supported on a flat surface. Reference your monitors guide to ensure proper placement on your arm.
- Quantity is key: Each time you measure, you should take multiple readings and record the result to ensure accuracy and consistency.
- Run daily tests: Its important to take the readings at close to the same time each day. For example, if you typically take the tests in the morning, you wouldnt want to switch to the evenings on any given day. Consult your doctor regarding the frequency of testing after youve changed treatment or before your next appointment.
- Dont take measurements over clothes: Placing the monitor over clothing will not provide the most accurate results and therefore provide misinformation.
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Health Risks Of Low Blood Pressure
There are both direct and indirect risks to having low blood pressure:
1. Inadequate Oxygen
As Dr. Lajoie mentioned, the main risk of low blood pressure is that there isn’t enough pressure in your blood vessels to get blood and thus, oxygen where it needs to go in your body, especially to the brain. Think of it like trying to take a shower when the water pressure is too lowyou just can’t get the job done easily or effectively.
2. Heart Problems
Severely low blood pressure can cause damage to your heart by depriving it of oxygen, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Individuals with existing coronary heart disease and very low blood pressure as a result of treatment are at an increased risk for cardiovascular events, such as a heart attack, according to a February 2017 study in the British Medical Journal.
Another study, published September 2018 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that very low blood pressure is associated with increased angina, or chest pain, in people with chronic coronary artery disease.
If you experience a sudden drop in blood pressure, you are at risk for fainting, which could lead to an injury from falling.
4. Kidney Damage
According to Dr. Lajoie, certain patients with kidney failure can experience worsened kidney function if their blood pressure is too low.
5. Exacerbation of Stroke Symptoms
“Patients with prior strokes can have recurrence of stroke symptoms if their blood pressure drops too low,” Dr. Lajoie says.
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Tips For Clients With Low Blood Pressure
Drink more fluids – Fluids help keep blood volume at a normal level. Sports drinks, due to their higher levels of electrolytes like potassium and sodium, may be more beneficial than plain water in this case.Salt – Adding salt to her diet can help increase fluid retention in the blood vessels which can normalize her blood pressure.Smaller and more frequent meals – Large meals can shunt blood to the digestive system in may lower blood pressure in the short term.Coffee – Research shows that 200-250 mgs of caffeine can decrease postural hypotension.Support hose – Support hose help reduce pooling of blood in the lower legs, which means theres more blood left in the upper body to maintain blood pressure.
As I always recommend, your first choice for exercise advice should come from your clients physician. Not only does this cover you legally, but it also shows both the physician and your client that you are concerned about her well being. You’ll find that the client and the physician will then be great referral sources. It also enhances your credibility as a professional in the health care chain.
The physician will also be able to rule out conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disorders, alcoholism, neuropathy, central nervous system disorders and pregnancy, which can lead to changes in blood pressure.
How Blood Pressure Is Measured
It is best to measure blood pressure when you are relaxed and sitting. Blood pressure is usually measured by wrapping an inflatable pressure cuff around your upper arm.
Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers, such as 120/80. The larger number indicates the pressure in the arteries as the heart pumps out blood during each beat. This is called the systolic blood pressure.
The lower number indicates the pressure as the heart relaxes before the next beat. This is called the diastolic blood pressure. Both are measured in units called millimetres of mercury .
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Are Certain People More Likely To Have Low Blood Pressure
Some people, especially if you have diabetes, are at a higher risk of your blood pressure temporarily dropping after eating or when getting up from a chair or from lying down in bed, for example. The former is whats called postprandial hypotension and the latter is orthostatic hypotension. Normally, when you’re digesting food, or when you change your body position from sitting to standing, your cardiovascular system adapts by beating harder as well as more rapidly, and constricting the diameter of certain blood vessels, such as those far from your intestine where digestion occurs. These physiological changes all collaborate to maintain your blood pressure. But, if these changes do not occur fast or adequately enough, your blood pressure can drop, sometimes to dangerous levels.
What Other Conditions Cause Low Blood Pressure
Sometimes, a bacterial or fungal infection from another part of the body enters the blood. This type of infection is called septicemia. It’s potentially life-threatening and may cause severe low blood pressure called septic shock that may damage organs. Septicemia may result from diverticulitis, pneumonia, urinary tract infection, or other infections.
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Secondary High Blood Pressure
Some cases of high blood pressure are the result of underlying factors or cause and this is known as secondary high blood pressure.
Underlying factors include:
- kidney conditions, such as a kidney infection, or kidney disease
- narrowing of the arteries
- hormonal conditions, such as Cushing’s syndrome
- conditions that affect the bodys tissue, such as lupus
- medication, such as the oral contraceptive pill, or the type of painkillers that are known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , such as ibuprofen
- recreational drugs, such as cocaine, amphetamines and crystal meth
Occasionally, a rise in blood pressure can result from taking herbal remedies, such as herbal supplements.
Serious Injuries And Shock
Low blood pressure can also be caused by serious injuries or burns, particularly if you have lost a lot of blood. This can mean that there is less blood being pumped around your body. Low blood pressure can also occur if you go into shock after having a serious injury.
Other kinds of shock are described below.
Anaphylactic shock, or anaphylaxis, is caused by an allergic reaction to something – for example, a wasp sting or a peanut. During an allergic reaction, your body produces a large amount of a chemical called histamine, which causes your blood vessels to widen and leads to a sudden, severe drop in blood pressure.
Cardiogenic shock occurs when your heart cannot supply enough blood to your body, so your blood pressure drops. This can happen during a heart attack.
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More Serious Or Lasting Causes
Some potentially more severe health issues can also cause low blood pressure, including:
- Nutrient deficiencies: These might involve vitamin B12 or folic acid.
- Neurally mediated hypotension: This disorder causes a drop in blood pressure after the person has been standing up for a prolonged period.
- Endocrine problems: These affect the regulation of the bodys hormones. One example is hypothyroidism, also known as an underactive thyroid.
- Heart problems: These can limit how effectively the heart pushes blood around the body.
- : This is a potentially life threatening response to a severe bacterial infection.
- Anaphylactic shock: This is a potentially life threatening complication of anaphylaxis, which is a severe allergic reaction.
In addition, loss of blood due to an injury can lead to low blood pressure.
Low Diastolic Pressure: No Symptoms
“When your systolic blood pressure gets too low, it can manifest as lightheadedness, fainting, and weakness. But low diastolic pressure by itself doesn’t have any symptoms,” says Dr. Paul Conlin, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and chief of medicine at the VA Boston Healthcare System.
One of the new studies, which analyzed the medical records of more than 11,000 adults over a period of three decades, found that people who had low diastolic blood pressure were twice as likely to have subtle evidence of heart damage compared with people whose diastolic blood pressure was 80 to 89 mm Hg. Low diastolic values were also linked to a higher risk of heart disease and death from any cause. The findings appeared in the Aug. 30, 2016, Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Another study, published in The Lancet, involved more than 22,000 people with heart disease, whom researchers grouped according to their blood pressure readings. People with well-controlled blood pressure values were considered the reference group.
Not surprisingly, people with high systolic blood pressure were more likely to experience heart attacks or strokes, be hospitalized with heart failure, or to die compared with people in the reference group. But the same was true for heart attacks, heart failure, and death in people with low blood pressure .
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Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally
If you have borderline high blood pressure, dont let your doctor automatically put you on drugs. Particularly if you are over 65.
There are some steps you can take to reduce hypertension without risking a dangerous fall.
First, make sure that you have high blood pressure in the first place.
A Canadian study found that 20% of patients whove been diagnosed with high blood pressure actually dont have it.5
Before your doctor takes your blood pressure, make sure that you sit quietly for at least five minutes.
Dont exercise, consume caffeine, or smoke within 30 minutes of your test. And make sure that during the reading, your arm is supported on a surface level with your heart.
If your reading is still high, there are natural remedies you can try.
Symptoms Of Low Diastolic Blood Pressure
Symptoms of isolated diastolic hypotension include tiredness, dizziness, and falls.
Because low diastolic pressure decreases blood flow to your heart, you may also have chest pain or symptoms of heart failure. Heart failure symptoms may include shortness of breath, swelling of your feet or ankles, confusion, and heart palpitations.
Seek immediate medical attention if you have chest pain or difficulty breathing.
Symptoms of low diastolic blood pressure along with low systolic blood pressure include:
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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.
Treating High Blood Pressure
Treatment for high blood pressure will depend on your blood pressure levels and your associated risk of developing a cardiovascular disease, such as a heart attack or stroke.
There are seven main risk factors for developing a cardiovascular disease. These are:
- having a high level of cholesterol in your blood
- having a family history of cardiovascular disease .
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Salt Intake And High Blood Pressure
Reducing the amount of salt you eat can also help to manage or even avoid high blood pressure. To help reduce your salt intake:
- Ensure your diet consists of wholefoods including vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, lean meat and poultry, fish and seafood, legumes, unsalted nuts and seeds.
- Avoid packaged and processed foods that are high in salt. You cant see the salt in these foods, so you dont know how much salt you are having. Get into the habit of checking food labels.
- Choose low-salt food where possible. If you cant find low-salt products, those with moderate amounts of salt are ok too. Another simple alternative is to look for labels with low salt, salt reduced or no added salt.
- Avoid adding salt to cooking or at the table flavour meals with herbs and spices instead.
Medications For High Blood Pressure
There is a large variety of medicines available to lower and manage high blood pressure. Your doctor may call them antihypertensives, .
These medications do not cure high blood pressure, but they do help manage it. Once you start to take medicines to manage your blood pressure, you may need to take them for the rest of your life. However, the dose of these medicines may change over time.
If you need to take medication, your doctor will advise you on the correct type and dose. Two or more different medications are often needed to manage blood pressure.
Make sure you take your medicines regularly. Some things that may help you remember to take them include:
- Building them into your daily routine by taking them at the same time each day.
- Keeping them somewhere that will remind you such as next to your alarm, or with your coffee or tea.
- Using a weekly pill box.
- Asking a family member or friend to remind you.
- Always carrying a list of your medicines and their doses with you.
- Entering a daily alarm in your mobile phone or download an app to remind you.
Take any blood pressure medicine exactly as prescribed. Dont stop or change your medicine, unless your doctor advises you to.
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