What is BLOOD PRESSURE? Complete Best Guide [2020]

Normally our heart has to supply blood to each part of the body. For this purpose, the heart has to contract with specific pressure and pass this blood to the large artery of the body, and this large artery, along with other small arteries, spread this blood to every part of the body. This is known as the Blood Pressure.

If there is no pressure builds inside the heart and in the arteries in the forward direction, this blood will not move forward and hence do not reach other body parts. This pressure, which is essential for our life, we called it Blood pressure (BP).

                            Normal BP=120/80

BLOOD PRESSURE

Why Blood Pressure Readings Varies?

The blood pressure ranges may fluctuate and become high or low for the time according to different unusual situations and conditions of the human body, such as increase heart rate, emotional stress, headache, temperature, anxiety, and many other factors.

Under such circumstances, different individuals experience different blood pressure readings at different times of the day. Still, they are not constant and return to normal when these factors are no more present. To such readings, we do not label it as High blood pressure. It’s just blood pressure.

When do we say Blood Pressure is HIGH?

When under the normal condition, as there are no internal and external factors, the blood pressure limit increases to a specific limit and remains constant. We can label it as High blood pressure (HBP) or Hypertension (HT).

What are different Blood Pressure RANGES?

BLOOD PRESSURE CATEGORYSYSTOLIC mm Hg
(upper number)
DIASTOLIC mm Hg
(lower number)
NORMALLESS THAN 120LESS THAN 80
ELEVATED120-129LESS THAN 80
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
(HYPERTENSION) STAGE 1
130-13980-89
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
(HYPERRTENSION) STAGE 2
140 OR HIGHER90 OR HIGHER
HYPERTENSIVE CRISIS
(immediately consult your doctor)
HIGHER THAN 180HIGHER THAN 120
  Source: AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION

These readings can be measured with a device called a sphygmomanometer by a medical professional or a well-trained person to measure accurate readings and minimize the chance of errors.

It must be remembered that these readings are different according to different problems of the patient, such as diabetes, stroke, kidney disease, heart problem, and many others. Each disease has its own specific targeted BP reading, which is considered normal.  

Your BP can be recorded in two numbers.

1-SYSTOLIC Blood Pressure: shows pressure in arteries when blood is pumped by the heart in order to circulate throughout the body.

2-DIASTOLIC Blood Pressure: it is the pressure in the arteries when there is no contraction of the heart and blood is filling in it.

Why Systolic number is more important?

As we age, our arteries get hardened, its flexibility decreases, and there is increase plaque formation inside it, which leads to an increase in systolic blood pressure.

Therefore it is considered as important due to its association with increased risk of cardiac and vascular diseases for people over 50 age.

According to the newest studies, there is a double increase in chances of death with heart diseases and stroke, if there is a 20mmHg increase in systolic and 10mmHg increase in diastolic pressure from the age of 40 to 90. 

What are the CAUSES which leads to High Blood Pressure?

We aren’t sure but we do know that there are some factors that put you at high risk of increasing blood pressure.

Example:

  • Do you have a Family history of Blood pressure?
  • Are you African-American?
  • Are you Overweight or Obese?
  • Do you have Diabetes or Sleep apnea?
  • Do you drink too much Alcohol or include too much salt in your diet?
  • Do you Smoke?
  • Do you feel stressed often?
  • Do you have an inactive lifestyle?
  • Do you have kidney or Cardiac issues?
  • Are you Older Age?

What are the SIGNS and SYMPTOMS of High Blood Pressure?

Many people with increase blood pressure show no signs and symptoms because of which their blood pressure may reach a very high level which can be fatal and lead to a series of medical problems. But few can show

  • Headache
  • Anxiety  
  • Dizziness
  • Blurry Vision
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty in Breathing
  • Irregular Heartbeat

What COMPLICATIONS occurs due to High Blood Pressure?

Once you develop hypertension there are a lot of complications that can start to occur with time. These are

  • Vision Loss: HBP can damage or strain the vessels in the eyes.
  • Stroke: blood: vessels in the brain can easily burst due to HBP.
  • Heart Failure: HBP leads to enlargement of the heart and hence the heart fails to supply blood to the body.
  • Heart Attack: arteries can be damaged and become blocked because of HBP.
  • kidney Disease/Failure: HBP damages the arteries of the kidney and thus interfere with their ability to filter blood.
  • Sexual Dysfunction: this can be erectile dysfunction in men and lower libido in women.

How to DIAGNOSED High Blood Pressure?

Carefully assess the patient and point out all the factors which are responsible for BP fluctuations. High readings came because of unusual circumstances have no importance because every increase in blood pressure is not hypertension. The best way to have HBP diagnosed is to measure it routinely.

Your doctor may take several reading over time or you have to monitor it at home. A single high reading does not mean you have HBP but if your readings continue to stay high for a longer time your doctor will most likely to begin a treatment program for you to reduce the side effects.

How to MANAGE High Blood Pressure?

A variety of treatment plans are present in order to manage HBP and your doctor will plan it according to your condition after careful assessment and history taking. These treatment plans are

Healthy Diet

Fluid tends to follow salt and your body retains more fluid which in turn increases BP therefore lower the amount of salt and fat in your diet by eating less packaged processed and frozen foods.
Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meat and low fat diary.

Active and clean life style

Exercise regularly several times a week train your heart and make it healthy and stronger. The more you weight the more you need blood to supply your body thus, exercise is also a good option to lose weight.
Exercise can also reduce cholesterol level which is responsible for high BP.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended up to 150 minutes of cardiovascular activity every week.

Quit smoking as it damaging the lining of the vessels and hardens it, thus increases BP.

Avoid consuming large amount of alcohol (men 2 drinks/day and women 1 drink/day) as it damages the heart.

Medications

Number of medicines are available in order to manage HBP but before starting these medications your doctor must have to wait for at least 6 to 12 weeks to see whether the life style modifications are helping or not in order to control BP and if it aren’t helping you then your doctor will recommend you either single or combination of one or two medication according to your condition.

DiureticsRemoves excess salt and fluid from the body
Beta-blockersDecrease the work of heart by decreasing heart rate
Calcium channel blockersRelaxes the blood vessels and thus decreases the heart work and heart rate
Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitorBlock chemicals that increases the BP
Alpha-2 agonistsBlock the impulses that causes blood vessels to tighten

Primary Hypertension:

It is the most common type of HT which accounts for 90 to 95% of cases and is developed gradually over a long period of time with no known cause.

Secondary Hypertension:

There is some other known cause or medical condition which is responsible to make your BP high. It accounts for 10% of cases.

What is HYPERTENSIVE CRISIS?

When a person BP rises quickly and severely enough then we label it as Hypertensive crisis.

It includes two categories

1-Hypertensive Urgency:

It is the situation in which the BP is super elevated but there is no organ damage occurs.

A person can feel severe headache, anxiety, shortness of breath, nose bleed and can be managed by taking oral medication and kept under observational setting until BP returns to normal.

2-Hypertensive Emergency:

In this, the extremely elevated BP can also damage the organs like heart, brain and kidney and cause serious consequences.

A person can also experience chest pain, shortness of breath, back pain, numbness, weakness, change in vision and difficulty in speaking.
Intravenous medication can be given on urgent bases and a person kept in an intensive care unit (ICU).

When we say Blood pressure is LOW?

In medical terminology low blood pressure (Hypotension) is not a disease, it is very rare and is consequence of some other problem in the body such as extremely low level of water in body, heart starts to work slowly because of some reason, infection, allergic reactions. Under such conditions vessels dilates to a great extent and thus are not capable to keep the pressure which further leads to Hypotension.

LBP leads to dizziness, fainting and in extreme cases, shock.
Immediate medical care is provided if person having LBP.

                                              LBP=90/60

When do we call Hypotension as Orthostatic Hypotension?

If a person is lying down or in a sitting position, then you have them to stand up suddenly and check their blood pressure it will drop to a certain amount because gravity pulls the blood towards it, this qualifies as Orthostatic Hypotension (OHT) or Postural Hypotension (PHT).
It is common in all sexes of all ages and is usually harmless. It becomes a problem if it is prolonged, lasts for several minutes or even longer than that, happening very frequently throughout the day and leading you to fall.

What are the CAUSES which leads to Orthostatic Hypotension?

  • Older Age
  • Low level of fluid in the body
  • Low level of Red blood cells
  • In Pregnancy
  • Heart Diseases
  • Endocrine Diseases (Diabetes, Thyroid condition)
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Long term immobility or bed rest
  • Hot weather
  • Blood pressure and anti-depressant medications
  • Alcohol or Drug abuse

What SIGN and SYMPTOMS occur in Postural Hypotension?

  • Fade vision
  • Vomiting
  • Tiredness
  • Feeling Sick
  • Balance loss/Falling

How to DIAGNOSE Orthostatic Hypotension?

If you have Orthostatic Hypotension, your doctor will check your BP in lying, sitting, and standing position. To rule out other medical conditions which are responsible for this problem, your doctor can also perform a series of test. These tests can be done according to medical conditions.

What are the treatment options for Orthostatic Hypotension?

If you are diagnosed with OHT, and if some disease is responsible for it, treating the disease will automatically cure the problem.
If any medication taken by a person is causing OHT, then your doctor will adjust the dose or make a change that particular medicine.

Certain lifestyle changes can also be done to treat OHT.
These are

  • Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
  • Avoid using alcohol
  • While sitting, don’t cross your legs.
  • Stand up slowly from sitting or lying position.
  • Don’t make yourself immobile for a very long period.
  • Perform isometric exercises; it will prevent falls in Blood Pressure.
  • Wear compression stockings; it will help with blood circulation.
  • Keep your head elevated while in the lying position.

Your doctor will also suggest some medications if these measures are not managing your condition.

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About Umer Arif

A few years back I decided to take care of my health. For that purpose, I learnt a lot about health and fitness. Now, I have deep knowledge about health and fitness, and I am helping others to gain health and fitness. I am a blogger by passion, Fitness trainer by profession and a Medical student by Interest.

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