What Do Blood Pressure Numbers Mean
Blood pressure is measured using two numbers:
The first number, called systolic blood pressure, measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats.
The second number, called diastolic blood pressure, measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart rests between beats.
If the measurement reads 120 systolic and 80 diastolic, you would say, 120 over 80, or write, 120/80 mmHg.
Maintain Good Eating Habits
Follow the dietary approaches to stop hypertension diet to lower blood pressure levels. This calls for a daily diet of grains, vegetables, fruit, and low-fat dairy. A few tips to help you along the way include reading food labels to know what you are eating, keeping a food journal, and adding potassium to your diet. Potassium can counteract the affects of sodium on blood pressure.
Blood Pressure Checks During Pregnancy
If you are pregnant, you should have your blood pressure checked on a regular basis, even if it is not high.
Watching your blood pressure while you are pregnant reduces your risk of developing pregnancy-induced hypertension. This can lead to a serious condition called pre-eclampsia where there is a problem with the placenta .
Also Check: Reduce Blood Pressure Medication
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.
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 .
Also Check: What Do You Do When You Have Low Blood Pressure
Recommended Reading: Can You Take Claritin With High Blood Pressure
High Blood Pressure And Older Adults
On this page:
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a major health problem that is common in older adults. Your bodys network of blood vessels, known as the vascular system, changes with age. Arteries get stiffer, causing blood pressure to go up. This can be true even for people who have heart-healthy habits and feel just fine. High blood pressure, sometimes called “the silent killer,” often does not cause signs of illness that you can see or feel. Though it affects nearly half of all adults, many may not even be aware they have it.
If high blood pressure isn’t controlled with lifestyle changes and medication, it can lead to serious health problems, including cardiovascular disease such as heart disease and stroke, vascular dementia, eye problems, and kidney disease. The good news is that blood pressure can be controlled in most people.
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.
Don’t Miss: What Causes Blood Pressure
Lack Of Physical Activity
A sedentary lifestyle can contribute to several health issues, including high blood pressure.
According to the AHA , physical activity can help a person lower their blood pressure. It can also improve their heart health and reduce their weight.
The AHA recommend 150 minutes a week of moderate-to-intense physical activity, such as walking briskly, running, or bicycling.
Exaggerated Blood Pressure Response
In people with hypertension, a greater than expected increase in systolic and diastolic pressure can occur with exercise. Specifically, systolic pressure levels above 190 in women and above 210 in men are considered exercise hypertension and should be evaluated, as this exaggerated blood pressure response is commonly a result of artery stiffness and increased peripheral resistance — and associated with a future risk of hypertension and heart disease. In people with coronary heart disease, abnormally low systolic and diastolic blood pressure may occur during exercise, and this also requires prompt evaluation. Anyone with hypertension or heart disease should seek and follow their doctor’s advice in order to safely incorporate exercise into their lifestyle.
You May Like: Calibrate Blood Pressure Monitor Omron
How To Lower Blood Pressure
There are lots of things you can do to lower your blood pressure.
If your doctor has given you blood pressure medication, take it as prescribed. However, you’ll also need to follow a heart-healthy lifestyle.
Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with hypertension, following these tips will be good for your blood pressure and good for your heart.
Stopping smoking is a great thing you can do for your blood pressure and your heart health.
Ask your doctor or nurse for help.
Phone Quitline 0800 778 778, or visit quit.org.nz for information and support.
Eat more heart-healthy foods and less salt
What you put into your body can make a big difference to your blood pressure.
Eat a wide variety of heart-healthy foods like:
- whole grains
Read more about the benefits of exercise.
Researchers are still trying to understand the exact link between stress and long-term high blood pressure. However being stressed contributes to other risk factors like poor diet and drinking more alcohol.
You can’t always remove the sources of stress in your life. But here are some things you can do to manage them.
- Enjoy exercise every day, like taking a walk.
- Take a break for yourself.
- Get 7-8 hours plus sleep each night.
- Talk about how you are feeling.
- Try relaxation music or breathing exercises.
Which Number Is More Important
Typically, more attention is given to systolic blood pressure as a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease for people over 50. In most people, systolic blood pressure rises steadily with age due to the increasing stiffness of large arteries, long-term buildup of plaque and an increased incidence of cardiac and vascular disease.
However, either an elevated systolic or an elevated diastolic blood pressure reading may be used to make a diagnosis of high blood pressure. According to recent studies, the risk of death from ischemic heart disease and stroke doubles with every 20 mm Hg systolic or 10 mm Hg diastolic increase among people from age 40 to 89.
Read Also: Lower Bloodpressure
Can You Help Control Your Blood Pressure
Yes, you can help. There are three things you can do: have a more active lifestyle, make healthy food choices, and, if needed, take your medicine every day as it is prescribed. With prehypertension, some people can bring blood pressure down to normal through weight loss, exercise and other changes for a healthy lifestyle. Medications are used to control high blood pressure. Medicines may be recommended for some people with prehypertension who also have other diseases, such as diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease and coronary artery disease.
If you have slightly high blood pressure, your doctor may suggest these steps:
- lose weight if you are overweight,
- get regular physical activity,
- cut down on alcohol, and
- change your food choices to those with less salt and fat
A special eating plan called DASH can help you lower your blood pressure. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH eating plan emphasizes fruits, vegetables, fatfree or lowfat milk and milk products, wholegrain products, fish, poultry, beans, seeds, and nuts. The DASH eating plan also contains less salt/sodium, sweets, added sugars, sugar containing beverages, fats, and red meats than the typical American diet.
Improve, sustain, and extend even more kidney patient lives in 2022 with your special holiday gift.
Excessive Salt Raises Blood Pressure
Too much sodium can cause water retention that puts increased pressure on your heart and blood vessels. People with high blood pressure and those at a high risk for developing hypertension, including adults over 50 and black men and women, should have no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium daily of salt.
Even people with normal levels should eat salt in moderation. Stick to no more than 2,300 mg of sodium , per day.
Most dietary sodium comes from processed foods. Rules of thumb are to choose foods with 5% or less of the daily value of sodium per serving and opt for fresh poultry, fish and lean meats, rather than canned, smoked or processed. Similarly, fresh or frozen vegetables are better than canned.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that if people cut just 1/2 teaspoon of salt per day, it could help lower the number of new cases of heart disease per year by up to 120,000.
Further, potassium found in foods like sweet potatoes, spinach, bananas, oranges, low-fat milk and halibut can counterbalance the pressure-increasing effects of sodium by helping to rid the body of excess sodium.
Dont Miss: What Is S Normal Blood Pressure
Recommended Reading: Causes Of Increased Blood Pressure
Living With High Blood Pressure
Controlling your high blood pressure is a lifelong commitment. You will always need to monitor your weight, make healthy food choices, exercise, learn to cope with stress, avoid smoking, and limit your alcohol intake. If you need medicine to control your high blood pressure, you will likely need it all your life.
Additionally, you will need to get used to regular blood pressure checks. Your doctor may want you to come to the office regularly. Or you may be asked to check your blood pressure at home and keep track of your numbers for your doctor. Some pharmacies and retail clinics have blood pressure machines on site. You can buy your own, automated arm blood pressure cuff for use at home. Your doctor may want you to check your blood pressure several times a day. Another option is to use an ambulatory blood pressure monitor.
Common Causes Of High Blood Pressure Spikes
Some people with high blood pressure will experience sharp rises in their blood pressure. These spikes, which typically last only a short period of time, are also known as sudden high blood pressure. These are some possible causes:
- Certain medications or combinations of medications
- Chronic kidney disease
Read Also: Does Claritin Raise Blood Pressure
What Are The Gaps In The Knowledge
Future studies, which should obtain more precise answers to the problem, should include IHD patients with a known coronary anatomy, the type and completeness of revascularization, and the known extent of myocardial ischemia . One of the aims should be to find a way to reduce sBP to within the target range, and to then optimize dBP because a risk remains after the target sBP has been achieved. An analysis of the types and combinations of antihypertensive drugs related to lowered dBP and the MACE rate is also warranted. Bearing in mind that sBP influences the prognosis the most, it is very important to determine whether, apart from the sBP, the dBP level influences the prognosis more than the class of antihypertensive drugs used, or vice versa.
Simultaneous recordings of Holter ECG and ABPM would give us a more precise insight into the direct provoking mechanisms involved. It would also be useful to see the influence of contemporary IHD management on the J-curve relation between dBP and mortality in patients with both IHD and SH. Sufficiently large trials are also needed to investigate the J-curve in patients > 60 years of age with SH, with or without LVH and IHD.
How Low Must Dbp Be To Worse Prognosis
The heart circulation is specific because, during systole, the left ventricle receives a very small amount of blood . This is due to the contraction of the muscles of the LV, which are so strong that they compress intramyocardial arteries and arterioles up to the point when the reverse flow occurs . Consequently, most of the LV perfusion occurs in diastole . Therefore, coronary blood flow depends on pressure and time . Autoregulation serves to provide relatively constant perfusion of the cardiomyocytes throughout the cardiac cycle, although perfusion pressure may vary largely . A specific problem occurs with lower perfusion pressures because this is when the blood flow to the LV cardiomyocytes stops . HTN itself causes a hypertrophic remodeling of the wall of the coronary arteries . HTN also promotes constriction of the coronary arterioles .
Therefore, the combination of HTN with LVH or IHD, particularly during periods of tachycardia, makes patients very prone to an excessive dBP reduction . There is not much to gain by increasing O2 extraction, as this is already very high during rest the heart is a permanently functioning muscle and it consumes the highest amount of O2 per gram in comparison with other organs . The additional potential for diminished blood flow in the coronary arteries is not only related to hemodynamics but also to increased thrombogenicity due to raised blood viscosity and the adhesiveness of platelets. It may predispose to acute coronary syndromes .
Also Check: Prevention Of Low Blood Pressure
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.
Healthy And Unhealthy Blood Pressure Ranges
Learn whats considered normal, as recommended by the American Heart Association.
|SYSTOLIC mm Hg||and/or||DIASTOLIC mm Hg|
|HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE STAGE 1||130 139|
|HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE STAGE 2||140 OR HIGHER|
|HYPERTENSIVE CRISIS||HIGHER THAN 180||and/or||HIGHER THAN 120|
Note: A diagnosis of high blood pressure must be confirmed with a medical professional. A doctor should also evaluate any unusually low blood pressure readings.
The five blood pressure ranges as recognized by the American Heart Association are:
Don’t Miss: Vinegar To Lower Blood Pressure
Getting To Know Systolic And Diastolic Blood Pressure
Systolic pressure, or the upper number in your blood pressure measurement, indicates the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats or during the contraction of heart muscles. The normal systolic pressure is 120 mmHg or millimeters of mercury. Anything above 120 up to 139 mmHg is a sign of prehypertension while 140 mmHg and above indicates high blood pressure.
On the other hand, diastolic pressure, or the lower number, measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart muscles are relaxed and blood refills your heart or pressure in your arteries in between two heartbeats. The normal reading for diastolic pressure is less than 80 mmHg. If yours went 90 and above, it could mean you have hypertension.
In other words, the optimal blood pressure is 120/80. Anything beyond or below these numbers could indicate heart problems and you need to consult a doctor as soon as possible to avoid further complications.
Recommended Reading: What Can Cause High Blood Pressure Spikes
Home Blood Pressure Monitoring
Some people buy their own blood pressure monitor to use at home. This means you can measure your blood pressure on an ongoing basis.
The blood pressure readings you do at home are as good as those done by your doctor.
If you decide to buy one, it’s important to get the correct cuff size. If the cuff is too big or too small, it can give an inaccurate reading.
If you take your own blood pressure and get an unusually high reading, take it a second time after at least five minutes. If it’s still high and you’re worried, contact your nurse or GP.
What Is High Blood Pressure Anyway
Lets first begin with how the heart functions. With each beat, the heart pumps oxygen-rich blood to the rest of your body in an ongoing, life-sustaining cycle. The forceor pressureof that contraction is what keeps your blood flowing through your arteries and veins.
There are two types of pressure that get generated:
Systolic, which is the pressure when your heart beats
Diastolic, which is your blood pressure between beats
A healthy blood-pressure reading is written out like this: 120/80 mmHg , with the systolic number on top and the diastolic number below. Spoken out loud, youll hear: 120 over 80. Its only when your numbers spike higher than 129 and tick upward of 80 , that youre venturing into hypertensiona.k.a. high blood pressure territory.
Your blood pressure goes up when youre active. It goes down when you chill out. Its highest in the morning when you wake up and lowest when you sleep. These types of fluctuations occur normally. However, when its continually above normal, you have a problem.
Why? Because HBP can do A LOT of damage. It strains and stiffens your blood vessels, which can make your heart work harder than it shouldand that can lead to a range of heart disorders, some of them quite serious.