+How To Monitor Your Blood Pressure
•10 Foods That Reduce Blood PressureHypertension is the medical term for High Blood Pressure.
It is a common condition in which the long-term force of the blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems. It is dangerous because it makes the heart work too hard and contributes to atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries), besides increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke. HTN can also lead to other conditions such as congestive heart failure, kidney disease, and blindness.
WHAT IS BLOOD PRESSURE?
Blood pressure is a combination of systolic and diastolic pressure. In blood pressure measurement the top number, known as the systolic pressure, represents the pressure within the arteries when the heart contracts, or “beats” while pumping blood. The second number, diastolic pressure, represents the pressure in the arteries when the heart relaxes between beats and fills with blood.Systolic pressure is always the first or top measurement in a blood pressure reading.
In a reading of 130/80, 130 represents systolic pressure and 80 represents diastolic pressure. In prehypertension, systolic numbers range from 120–129 and diastolic numbers are less than 80.High blood pressure is defined as a reading above 140/90 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury).Normal blood pressure is defined as less than 120 over less than 80.
A person whose blood pressure runs between 120-139 over 80-89 is said to have pre-hypertension, a classification that is used to further encourage taking preventive diet and lifestyle measures. Blood pressure changes repeatedly throughout the day; it is lowest during sleep and increases upon waking. It also goes up when a person is excited, nervous or active.
BLOOD PRESSURE RANGES INCLUDE:
(3)•Normal: Less than 120/80 mm Hg•
Prehypertension: Systolic between 120–129 and diastolic less than 80•
Stage 1 high blood pressure: Systolic between 130–139 or diastolic between 80–89
•Stage 2 high blood pressure: Systolic at least 140 or diastolic at least 90 mm Hg
Although both numbers are significant, after about age 50, the systolic number is most important. Only 10 percent of high blood pressure cases are due to secondary or identifiable causes such as medications, or conditions and diseases of other organs. High blood pressure happens when the pressure on the arteries and blood vessels becomes too high and the arterial wall becomes distorted causing extra stress on the heart. Long term-high blood pressure increases the risk of stroke, heart attack and diabetes. Most people don’t even realize they have high blood pressure until serious problems arise.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Hypertension is often called a “silent killer” because even severe, uncontrolled high blood pressure often has no obvious symptoms. However, even when absolute blood pressure levels are only moderately elevated, patients may report headaches, dizzy spells, or nosebleeds.
In general, however, these symptoms don’t occur unless there has been a rapid, acute change in blood pressure, or until blood pressure has reached dangerous levels
Studies over the past 20 years have shown that the majority of people in economic developing countries have blood pressure numbers that are higher than they should be, with many experiencing high blood pressure. In fact, there are millions of people all over the world who are struggling with high blood pressure, or hypertension. As of 2008, the prevalence of elevated blood pressure among adults over 25 years old was about 40 percent worldwide.
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES?
There are two types of High Blood Pressure.
(1) PRIMARY (ESSENTIAL)
For most adults, there’s no identifiable cause of high blood pressure. This type of high blood pressure, called primary (essential) hypertension, tends to develop gradually over many years.The risk of high blood pressure increases with age as arterial walls lose their elasticity. There can be many contributing factors, yet doctors often cannot identify an exact cause for high blood pressure, in which case the person is said to have “essential hypertension.” Potential contributing factors include but are not limited to:
The risk of high blood pressure increases as you age. Through early middle age, or about age 45, high blood pressure is more common in men. Women are more likely to develop high blood pressure after age 65.RACEHigh blood pressure is particularly common among blacks, often developing at an earlier age than it does in whites. Serious complications, such as stroke, heart attack and kidney failure, also are more common in blacks.
High blood pressure tends to run in families.
BEING OVERWEIGHT OR OBESE
The more you weigh the more blood you need to supply oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. As the volume of blood circulated through your blood vessels increases, so does the pressure on your artery walls.
NOT BEING PHYSICALLY ACTIVE.
People who are inactive tend to have higher heart rates. The higher your heart rate, the harder your heart must work with each contraction and the stronger the force on your arteries. Lack of physical activity also increases the risk of being overweight.
Not only does smoking or chewing tobacco immediately raise your blood pressure temporarily, but the chemicals in tobacco can damage the lining of your artery walls. This can cause your arteries to narrow, increasing your blood pressure. Secondhand smoke also can increase your blood pressure.
TOO MUCH SALT (Sodium) in your diet.
Too much sodium in your diet can cause your body to retain fluid, which increases blood pressure.
TOO LITTLE POTASSIUM In your diet.
Potassium helps balance the amount of sodium in your cells. If you don’t get enough potassium in your diet or retain enough potassium, you may accumulate too much sodium in your blood.
•TOO LITTLE VITAMIN D In your diet.
It’s uncertain if having too little vitamin D in your diet can lead to high blood pressure. Vitamin D may affect an enzyme produced by your kidneys that affects your blood pressure.
•DRINKING TOO MUCH ALCOHOL
Over time, heavy drinking can damage your heart. Having more than two drinks a day for men and more than one drink a day for women may affect your blood pressure.If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. For healthy adults, that means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger. One drink equals 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor.
•STRESS High levels of stress can lead to a temporary increase in blood pressure. If you try to relax by eating more, using tobacco or drinking alcohol, you may only increase problems with high blood pressure.
•CERTAIN CHRONIC CONDITIONS. Certain chronic conditions also may increase your risk of high blood pressure, such as kidney disease, diabetes and sleep apnea. Sometimes pregnancy contributes to high blood pressure, as well. Although high blood pressure is most common in adults, children may be at risk, too. For some children, high blood pressure is caused by problems with the kidneys or heart. But for a growing number of kids, poor lifestyle habits, such as an unhealthy diet, obesity and lack of exercise, contribute to high blood pressure.
(2) SECONDARY HYPERTENSION
Some people have high blood pressure caused by an underlying condition. This type of high blood pressure, called secondary hypertension, tends to appear suddenly and cause higher blood pressure than does primary hypertension. Various conditions and medications can lead to secondary hypertension, including: •Obstructive sleep apnea, •Kidney problems, •Adrenal gland tumors, •Thyroid problems, •Certain defects in blood vessels you’re born with (congenital), •Certain medications, such as birth control pills, cold remedies, decongestants, over-the-counter pain relievers and some prescription drugs •Illegal drugs, such as cocaine and amphetamines •Alcohol abuse or chronic alcohol use.
HOW IS HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE DIAGNOSED?
Frequently, there are no symptoms as blood pressure increases, but warning signs for very high blood pressure can include chest pains, confusion, headaches, ear noise or buzzing, irregular heartbeat, nosebleeds, tiredness or vision changes.Most people are familiar with blood pressure testing, which is performed using an inflatable arm cuff and a pressure-measuring gauge. As mentioned earlier, if your blood pressure is in the range of 120-139 mg Hg over 80-89 mm Hg a diagnosis of “prehypertension” is considered. Blood pressure readings that range from 140-159 mm Hg over 90-99 mm Hg signal stage 1 hypertension.
More severe hypertension – stage 2 – is defined as a reading of 160 mm Hg or higher over 100 mm Hg or higher.The best way to determine whether the elevated readings obtained in the doctor’s office are solely the result of white coat hypertension is to check your blood pressure at home with a well-calibrated blood pressure monitor (they are widely available). If you decide to do this, check your blood pressure at least twice a day, at random times, and keep a log of your results to share with your doctor.
Unless your blood pressure is extremely high, or you are having symptoms related to high blood pressure, your physician will probably ask you to return in a few days or weeks for a repeated set of blood pressure measurements before instituting therapy. A diagnosis of high blood pressure usually is not based on a single high reading.