Everything You Need to Know About High Blood Pressure
Everything you need to know about high blood pressure
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, occurs when the force of the blood pushing against your artery walls is consistently higher than normal.
You may have a family history of high blood pressure, or you may develop it yourself for no obvious reason. The good news is that you can often control it with lifestyle changes and medication.
What is high blood pressure?
Hypertension is a medical condition where your blood pressure is consistently high. It is one of the leading causes of heart disease and stroke.
Most people with high blood pressure do not experience any symptoms, which is why it is known as the “silent killer”. If you are at risk of having high blood pressure, you need to make an appointment with your primary care provider.
Your GP will measure your blood pressure with a blood pressure cuff or by taking readings on a monitor. They will compare your systolic (top) and diastolic (bottom) numbers to find out if you have high or low blood pressure.
The ideal blood pressure for a healthy adult is between 90/60 and 120/80, but this can vary.
Many factors can affect your blood pressure, such as how much fluid you are drinking, if you are overweight or have diabetes or if you have an underlying illness or condition. Simple lifestyle changes and treating the underlying cause usually help lower your blood pressure.
Medications can also be used to treat high blood pressure, and these can help bring it down to a normal range. They have different benefits and risks, so it is important to talk to your doctor about the best treatment plan for you.
You should be able to start treatment within days, but it can take a while to see results. This is because it takes time for your body to build up a resistance to the medication.
Some people who have very high blood pressure need to take daily medication to keep their blood pressure in a normal range. Your doctor may prescribe these medications to you, or they may be given to you by hospital staff during emergency treatment for shock-induced hypotension.
A combination of drugs can be a safe and effective way to treat high blood pressure. Some can be taken once a day, while others are long-acting or once a week.
If you have high blood pressure and experience headaches, it is important to get a diagnosis from your doctor. These headaches can be a warning sign of severe hypertension and should be treated immediately.
What are the health risks of high blood pressure?
High blood pressure isn’t usually a problem that causes any symptoms, but if left untreated, it can have serious effects on your health. It can increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and eye problems, among other things.
A healthy diet and regular physical activity can help control your blood pressure. However, some people are at higher risk for developing hypertension than others and have to take medicines to manage it.
If you have a family history of high blood pressure, it is important to get your blood pressure checked regularly by a doctor. A doctor can also help you learn more about what’s causing your high blood pressure and how to manage it.
Symptoms of high blood pressure include chest pain (angina), irregular heart rhythms, and an enlarged heart. An enlarged heart increases your risk of heart attack and heart failure.
In most cases, hypertension can be controlled with lifestyle changes and medicine. Your doctor will work with you to create a plan that is right for you and help you get started.
You should keep your weight in a healthy range, try to stop smoking, limit alcohol consumption and do at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. These steps are all important for reducing your risk of hypertension and preventing serious health complications, including heart disease and stroke.
Your doctor will also check your blood pressure regularly if you have other conditions that increase your risk of high blood pressure. For example, if you have diabetes or kidney disease, you should ask your doctor about medications that can lower your blood pressure.
High blood pressure is most often caused by essential hypertension, also known as primary hypertension. Essential hypertension is mainly caused by unhealthy habits like not getting enough exercise or eating an unhealthy diet.
Some factors, such as age and race, also increase your risk of developing primary hypertension. For instance, women over 65 are more likely to have this type of hypertension than men.
Other factors, such as being overweight, having diabetes or kidney disease, or a family history of high blood pressure, also increase your risk. Pregnant women who develop high blood pressure have a much higher chance of having babies with low birth weight or being born prematurely.
Why do I need to check my blood pressure?
There are several reasons why you need to check your blood pressure. The most common reason is that high blood pressure can lead to serious health problems, such as heart attack or stroke.
Your blood pressure is a measure of how hard your heart is working to pump the blood through your body’s network of arteries. It can vary throughout the day, but it usually falls within a normal range.
You can find out your blood pressure by using a machine that cuffs the arm and takes readings in millimetres of mercury (mmHg). The numbers indicate the systolic pressure, which is how much pressure there is when the heart beats, and the diastolic pressure, which is how much there is when the heart rests between beats.
Blood pressure levels can also change due to exercise, drinking alcohol, or stress. Your doctor may recommend that you get blood pressure readings at the same times every day to see if your pressure changes throughout the day.
When you go to your doctor’s office, the staff will measure your blood pressure by putting a cuff on your arm. The cuff is snug but not too tight. It’s also important that you sit correctly and don’t talk while the blood pressure is being checked.
The cuff should be worn around your upper arm at chest level, with the bottom of the cuff just above the bend of the elbow. If you aren’t sure how to use the machine, ask your health care provider for instructions.
Another reason to check your blood pressure regularly is that it can be helpful in tracking how well your medications are working. You can also spot trends that may signal a problem.
If you have a family history of high blood pressure, or you are older than 50 years old, your health care provider may recommend that you get your blood pressure checked more often. This is especially true if you have high blood pressure that’s not controlled with medication, or if you are changing treatment, your doctor may suggest you start checking it two weeks after changes and a week before your next visit.
How do I check my blood pressure?
You can check your blood pressure at home with an aneroid (manual) monitor or digital monitor. These blood pressure monitors are designed to be easy to use and read. You should choose the type that suits your needs and budget. The best monitor is one that allows you to measure both your systolic and diastolic blood pressure at the same time.
Before checking your blood pressure, you should be still and sit correctly with your back straight and supported (on a chair, not a sofa). Don’t smoke or drink caffeinated beverages within 30 minutes of measuring your blood pressure. It’s also a good idea to empty your bladder first before taking the reading.
Your blood pressure is measured with a special cuff around your upper arm that has a rubber bulb you squeeze to inflate it. You then take two or three readings, each about one to two minutes apart.
The highest number is called your systolic pressure and the lowest is your diastolic pressure. Having both high numbers can be a sign of a problem and should prompt you to seek medical advice.
In general, normal blood pressure is 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) or lower. If your systolic blood pressure is 140/90 mmHg or higher, you have high blood pressure and should discuss this with your doctor.
If your doctor thinks you may have high blood pressure, he or she will recommend taking your blood pressure more frequently. In the beginning, it’s important to measure your blood pressure at least twice a day – once in the morning and once in the evening before going to bed.
You should also take a log of your readings and the time you took them. This will help your doctor see what’s happening with your blood pressure over time and how you are responding to treatment.
Ideally, you should take your blood pressure at the same time of day each day to get the most accurate readings. A few factors can affect the accuracy of your readings – such as caffeine, exercise, alcohol, stress and time of day.
Long term health risks
As we age, high blood pressure becomes increasingly common. When this happens, our body’s blood vessels become narrower and our hearts must work harder to pump the same amount of blood around the body. Over time, high blood pressure can cause heart failure as well as thickening and stiffening of the muscles in the heart.
Not only that, with long-term high blood pressure come added risk of kidney damage, aneurysms and T.I.A.’s, making high blood pressure something to be taken seriously. For people over 40 especially, it is important to take precautions against high blood pressure by visiting your doctor or healthcare provider for regular check-ups. This way you can ensure you don’t face any surprises when it comes to your health in later years.
High blood pressure is a very serious health concern, and it can be caused or worsened by lifestyle choices such as smoking and high salt intake. To combat high blood pressure, Dr. De Vaal recommends that we take a look at our lifestyle and make healthy changes like eating well, exercising and losing weight.
Though tending to your lifestyle is often all it takes to bring high blood pressure down, there are more extreme cases for which medicine may be prescribed by a doctor.