In a human body when heart beats it pumps blood throughout the body for the supply of oxygen and energy. The blood while circulating exerts pressure on the walls of blood vessels. This pressure is your blood pressure (BP) or arterial blood pressure. It is usually expressed as 2 numbers systolic and diastolic pressure and is expressed in 120/80 mm Hg (millimetres of mercury) which is normal BP for an adult. The top number is referred to as systolic which is usually the greater amongst the two numbers and measures the arterial pressure during heart muscle contraction. The lower one is referred as diastolic which is smaller amongst the two and measures the arterial pressure when the heart muscle rests and refills with blood.
Blood Pressure can vary depending upon the activities, situations, ailments and is under regulation by the endocrine and nervous systems. If blood pressure is medically low it is referred as hypotension and if it is medically high then it is referred as hypertension. In many cases Hypertension and hypotension go unnoticed because of negligence.
Tests and Diagnosis for BP
A sphygmomanometer, blood pressure meter, blood pressure gage or a sphygmometer is used to check blood pressure. You can check your blood pressure at any clinic or even at home. An inflatable arm cuff is usually placed by the doctor around your arm to measure your blood pressure. Around 2 to 3 readings are taken at separate appointments before coming to any conclusion. The blood pressure readings are taken in both the arms to find out if there is any difference. For diagnosis of blood pressure doctor may ask about history of blood pressure in your family, medicines and symptoms. Once the physical examination and other tests are done doctor may check for other causes for your blood pressure problem.
Some of these tests may include:
- Blood pressure tests,
- Blood tests,
- Electrocardiogram (ECG),
- Echocardiogram and
- Stress tests
High Blood Pressure:
It is very important to check your blood pressure regularly. If the blood pressure readings are 140 over 90 or even high for a consistent period then you have a HBP. Even if either one number of the two is high then you may have HBP. With correct treatment you can bring your HBP to normal state and prevent damage to body organs.
Causes of High Blood Pressure:
Several factors are responsible for causing High Blood Pressure like:
- High Alcohol consumption
- Over intake of salt in diet
- Old age
- Family History
- Thyroid disorders
- Prolonged kidney disorder
Signs and Symptoms:
There are no definite signs and symptoms for HBP but in some cases headache may be seen.
You can suffer from it for several years without knowledge.
Treatments for High Blood Pressure:
- Diuretics or water pills are given as medications that help kidneys eliminate sodium and water from your body thereby decreasing blood volume.
- Beta blockers are given for reducing the pressure on your heart by opening the blood vessels As a result the heart beats slower exerting less force.
- In elderly patients beta blockers are combined with other blood pressure medicines to get effective results.
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, Calcium channel blockers, Renin inhibitors, Alpha-beta blockers and other additional medications may be prescribed by the doctor to treat HBP
High Blood Pressure Complications:
- Untreated high blood pressure, atherosclerosis leads to coronary artery disease.
- People with hypertension are more likely to get a stroke.
- Heart disease is closely related to hypertension and is one of the main causes for death
- Hypertension causes kidney failure
- If hypertension is not treated on time can cause damage to the eyes by affecting the blood vessels in and around the retina.
- Hypertension can worsen diabetes complications similarly there are more chances of diabetic people developing hypertension.
- Hypertension can also cause erectile dysfunction.
- Hypertension in pregnancy can cause preeclampsia which can be a life threating disease for pregnant women.
- Hypertension can cause Metabolic syndrome in which a person can suffer from multiple disorders like high sugar level, high fat in abdomen region which in turn can cause diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
• Old age and these days even middle age is the risk factor for HBP. For men, after 45 yrs. and in women after 65 yrs. of age, high blood pressure is commonly seen.
• Hypertension is more in blacks than in whites thus Race is also an important factor in HBP.
• If any of the members in your family had HBP you are more likely to get it.
• Obese people are at a higher risk of getting high blood pressure.
• Lack of physical activity is another risk for obesity. People with sedentary life style are more prone to HBP.
• Too much stress can lead to increase in blood pressure.
• Chewing of tobacco raises your blood pressure instantly and the chemicals in tobacco damage artery walls resulting into narrowing of these walls. It increases your blood pressure. Second hand smoke can also be the reason for increase in blood pressure.
Do’s and Don’ts to Control High Blood Pressure:
- Cut your sodium intake. Even a small drop of sodium intake can decrease the blood pressure by 2 to 8 mm Hg. Do not exceed the limit of sodium which is 2,300mg per day.
- Eating a healthy, low fat diet which contains fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat foods can lower the blood pressure by a considerable amount.
- Include low fat and fresh yogurt in your diet every day as it contains potassium, calcium and magnesium which are beneficial for keeping a check on your high blood pressure.
- For people who cannot take medicines for high blood pressure, oatmeal is the best option. You can have oatmeal in breakfast and increase its taste and nutritious value by adding fresh fruits to it.
- Exercise daily for at least 30 minutes. Engaging in any physical activity can help to prevent and control high blood pressure. Do not over do the exercise on weekends if you skip your daily exercise routine. Sudden bursts of exercise can be risky for your health.
- Limit your alcohol consumption as it increases your blood pressure and also reduces the effect of hypertension medications.
- Smoking can increase the risk of heart syndromes and lung disorders.
- Obese people are always prone to high blood pressure. Losing weight is an effective weight for reducing blood pressure as well as to increase the effect of medications. Set a target weight and take efforts to achieve it.
- Blood pressure also increases in people with heavy weight around waist. Take measurements regularly to have a check on your waistline and shed those extra pounds around your waist.
- Avoid drinking tea, coffee or any other beverages containing high percentage of caffeine as it can lead to high blood pressure.
Low Blood Pressure:
When your blood pressure is lower than normal then you have Low blood pressure or hypotension. Hypotension does not show any symptoms. It is often normal to have hypotension especially among people who are physically very active. But sudden drop of blood pressure causing dizziness or fainting can cause a shock which can be dangerous for your health. In general, low blood pressure is seen when blood pressure is less than 90/60.
Causes of low blood pressure include:
- Sunstroke or dehydration because of insufficient intake of fluids.
- Getting up suddenly after sleep or sitting also called orthostatic hypotension.
- Standing for a long time.
- Medicines for HBP or heart disease
- Thyroid disorder, infection, intestinal disorder or heart complications.
- Heavy bleeding or severe burns.
- Pregnancy can cause hypotension because of the increased levels of progesterone in the blood, which leads to hypotension.
Signs and Symptoms:
Symptoms of hypotension are rarely visible. Some of them are:
- Fast heartbeat
- Sudden increase in thirst
- Blurred vision
- Skin gets cold and moist
- Stool colour changes to black
Treatments for Low Blood Pressure:
Low blood pressure can be successfully cured by following certain ways which include:
- Increasing salt consumption
- Consuming more fluids and especially water
- Eating healthy and wholesome diet.
Certain medicines like Beta-blockers, Sertraline and fludrocortisone are prescribed by doctors but these medications are prescribed, only after studying patient’s medicinal history, symptoms and age. Do not consume any medicines on your own.
Low Blood Pressure Complications:
- Hypotension can lead to death if not treated on time.
- Weakness can cause inability to perform other normal functions
- Low self confidence
- Sluggishness which can cause other complications
- Hypotension mostly occurs in adults above 65 years of age.
- Neurally mediated hypotension mostly in kids and younger adults.
- People taking high blood pressure medicines such as alpha blockers, are at higher risk of developing low blood pressure.
- Parkinson’s disease, heart stroke or diabetes can cause low blood pressure.
Do’s and Don’ts to Control Low Blood Pressure:
- Brisk walking, jogging and biking can help in regulating blood pressure. Water sport like swimming can also help in preventing the low blood pressure.
- Follow home remedies rather than going for any medication unless it is serious.
- Beetroot juice if consumed twice a day can help to maintain BP.
- Take baths with Epsom salt
- Increase intake of vitamin C and all Vitamins of the B group.
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