Blood Pressure

Blood pressure or BP is the pumping of the hearts blood circulating to all parts of the body, supplying the required oxygen and energy. The blood circulates pushing its way against the walls of the blood vessels exerting pressure. The extent of the force with which the blood is pushed is determines a person’s blood pressure levels.

Sphygmomanometer or blood pressure meter

Blood Pressure Measurement (Image source: sxc.hu)

How to measure Blood pressure?

While measuring Blood pressure levels there are two different values always in pairs known as the systolic and the diastolic blood pressure. Measured commonly in millimetres of mercury (mm Hg) these contain the systolic pressure on the upper value followed by the diastolic pressure on the lower value.

 

Blood Pressure Measurement

Blood Pressure Measurement

What is Systolic Blood pressure?

Systolic blood pressure is the reading measured when the heart muscles contract and pump blood to all the organs and tissues of the body.

  

What is Diastolic Blood Pressure?

Diastolic Blood Pressure is the reading measured when the heart muscles between heartbeats rest and relax, replenishing the heart with blood.

 

Normal Blood Pressure

The optimal blood pressure reading is 120/80mm Hg, for enjoying good health.  This reading lowers the risk of stroke, cardiovascular and renal diseases.

 

Pre-Hypertension

Some individuals have blood pressure ranging from 120/80 to 140/90 mmHg that is termed as pre-hypertension. Although this, according to normal standards, is not considered high, it would be advisable to make lifestyle changes to control the pressure, with chances of developing hypertension being imminent.

 

Hypertension

The blood pressure measurement above 140/90 mmHg is called Hypertension, or High blood pressure, a chronic condition when the heart works harder than usual to circulate blood. These elevated levels might in due course lead to a heart attack, renal disease, or stroke.

 

Hypotension

Hypotension or low blood pressure, as the term indicates refers to a considerable fall in blood pressure measurements, such as 90/60 mm Hg with reduced supply of oxygen to the brain, causing fainting and dizziness.

 

Hypertension Facts

DIFFERENT TYPES OF HYPERTENSION

Blood Pressure LevelsThe elevated level of systolic and diastolic blood pressure is the most common type of blood pressure prevalent among millions. Besides these, there are other types of hypertension namely isolated systolic, white coat and borderline Hypertension.

 

Isolated systolic Hypertension

An elevated systolic pressure (140 mm Hg) with normal diastolic pressure (90 mm Hg), because of stiff arteries, contributing to an increased pulse pressure is termed isolated systolic pressure.  This is an indicator of organ damage and other health problems.

 

White coat Hypertension

A temporary rise in blood pressure levels triggered during a visit to the physician is termed white coat hypertension.  Stress and anxiety could be the main cause for this type of hypertension.

 

Borderline Hypertension

A slightly elevated blood pressure bordering on a little more or less than 140/90 mm Hg with moderate chances of developing cardiovascular disease is borderline hypertension.

 

HYPERTENSION SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

One of the most hazardous aspects of hypertension is that it is a “silent killer.”  A majority of the people have no outward symptoms, while the condition may silently damage the internal organs such as the kidneys, brain, heart, blood vessels and the lungs.

 

Nevertheless, a few of them with the onset of early hypertension may experience headaches, nausea, vomiting, vision changes, ringing in the ears, breathlessness, nosebleeds with occasional spells of dizziness.

 

HYPERTENSION CAUSES AND RISKS

Essential (Primary) hypertension

Most of the time there is no particular cause for hypertension. This is termed primary or essential hypertension, which develops gradually over the years.

 

Secondary hypertension

Elevated blood pressure due to an underlying medical condition is termed secondary hypertension.

 

Hypertension Causes

Although there are no particular causes for increase in blood pressure, there are a few lifestyle factors, nevertheless, contributing towards hypertension.

 

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes mellitus correlates with hypertension due to Hyperglycaemia, a condition with increased blood sugar levels. This results in the thickening of blood that is unable to flow smoothly through the blood vessels exerting pressure on the heart muscles to pump blood leading to hypertension.

 

Pregnancy

There is a considerable rise in the quantity of blood in the body during pregnancy.  Therefore, in order to compensate and achieve a balance the heart works extra hard increasing its pumping force thus leading to hypertension.

 

Lifestyle factors

A few important lifestyle factors are chiefly responsible for developing risk of hypertension.  Consumption of unhealthy diet containing trans and saturated fats combined with excessive salt and oil augment blood pressure levels. Besides this, leading a sedentary lifestyle, smoking and drinking alcohol elevates risk of hypertension.

 

Other factors

In addition to all these, other factors that include age, a family history, mental stress, obesity and ethnics belonging to African or south Asian lineage are at a greater risk of hypertension.

 

Complications

Uncontrolled hypertension may lead to certain life threatening complications such as heart attacks or failures, stroke, chronic kidney disease, aneurysm, bleeding from the aorta, weakened blood vessels, metabolic syndrome, poor vision, memory loss and insufficient blood supply to the legs.

 

Treatment

The physician recommends certain medications and lifestyles changes to bring down the blood pressure levels.

 

Medications

Diuretics known as water pills, beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, ARBs, calcium channel blockers other medications like vasodilators are prescribed to relax the blood vessels.

 

Lifestyle changes

Dietary approaches are extremely vital to stabilise blood pressure levels. A DASH diet (Dietary Approach To Stop Hypertension) that includes fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, poultry, fish, whole grains and low fat dairy products with less consumption of salt, sweets, red meat trans and saturated fats are highly recommended.

 

Besides these, regular exercise, abstaining from smoking, drinking alcohol, controlling body weight, keeping the body hydrated are some of the important aspects required to reduce hypertension.

 

Hypotension Facts

HYPOTENSION SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

The characteristic symptom of low blood pressure is unconsciousness.  Sudden hypotension may result due to a significant loss of blood. Light-headedness while lying down, standing or in a sitting position is another important sign of hypotension.  Other related symptoms include Dizziness, fatigue, fainting, blurred vision hair loss, high temperature, headaches, chest pain, seizures, stiff neck, irregular heartbeat and breathlessness.

 

HYPOTENSION CAUSES

There are innumerable causes contributing towards hypotension. They are blood loss, internal bleeding, blood donation, stress, dehydration, and certain medications taken for depression, hypertension, Diuretics and due to allergic reaction to certain drugs.  Certain conditions like pregnancy, Parkinson’s disease, Addison’s disease, heart disease and toxic shock syndrome are the other factors responsible for low blood pressure levels in the body.

 

Conclusion

Monitoring blood pressure levels regularly is advantageous to note the changes and check the efficacy of the prescribed drug. In addition, it is very important to follow up with the physician, take medications and make important lifestyle changes to maintain normal blood pressure levels. Remember a healthy lifestyle results in a healthy body, which in turn promotes a healthy mind.

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