What Is Blood Pressure? 5 Things to Know About It
a blog by My Emergency Room Abilene
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a condition in which the force of blood against artery walls is persistently elevated. This forces the heart to work harder and increases the risk of coronary artery disease, strokes, and other problems. Normal blood pressure ranges from 100-120 systolic over 60-80 diastolic (read as mm Hg). High blood pressure can be discovered by regularly measuring your blood pressure at home and seeing your doctor for annual checkups. Keep reading to discover more about this condition and what you can do to keep it under control.
What is Normal Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is the force of blood against artery walls. It is calculated by two numbers - systolic and diastolic. Systolic refers to when the heart is pumping blood, and diastolic refers to when the heart is at rest. Normal blood pressure ranges from 100-120 systolic over 60-80 diastolic (read as mm Hg). Normal blood pressure is important for good health and longevity, as it affects our heart, brain, and kidneys. Excessively high blood pressure is called hypertension.
How to Measure Your Own Blood Pressure at Home
If you have hypertension or are at risk of developing it, you should monitor your blood pressure at home. This is a good idea even if you’ve never had high blood pressure before. Blood pressure can fluctuate throughout the day and be different at different times of day, so it’s helpful to record the readings you get at home. You can do this with a blood pressure monitor that you can easily take with you on the go. A blood pressure monitor is a device that you put on your upper arm to measure your blood pressure. When choosing a monitor, be sure to select one that is FDA-approved and meets current guidelines for accuracy.
Signs and Symptoms of High Blood Pressure
If you have high blood pressure, then you may not have any symptoms. If you have hypertension and are not managing it, then you may experience symptoms like headaches, fatigue, shortness of breath, and blurred vision. When you first start experiencing symptoms, your blood pressure may not be extremely high. That’s why it’s important to check your blood pressure regularly and visit your doctor for a checkup if you notice any changes. If you have high blood pressure and don’t take steps to manage it, you increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease.
Causes of High Blood Pressure
There are several causes of high blood pressure, including being overweight, excessive alcohol consumption, stress, not getting enough sleep, and a diet high in sodium. Excessive caffeine intake, not enough potassium in your diet, genetics, and certain medications can also cause hypertension. Depending on your cause of high blood pressure, you can work with your doctor to create a treatment plan.
Managing High Blood Pressure
If you’re diagnosed with high blood pressure, your doctor will likely suggest lifestyle changes that can help bring your blood pressure down. These include eating a healthy diet, getting enough exercise, and managing your stress. If you have high blood pressure and are taking medication, be sure to take it as prescribed and bring your blood pressure down as low as is safely possible. You can also try to lessen the side effects of your medication by eating healthy foods, getting regular exercise, and getting enough sleep.