What exactly is blood pressure?
We all know that arteries are responsible for carrying blood from heart to the rest of our body. So, each time your heart beats, it pushes blood through your arteries, which in turn puts pressure on artery walls. This is what is called as “Blood Pressure”.
When can you be Hypertensive?
While the standard for a normal blood pressure has always been < 120/80 mmHG. The first number is the systolic blood pressure i.e. the peak blood pressure when your heart is squeezing out blood, and the second number is called as diastolic blood pressure i.e the pressure when your heart is filling with blood-relaxing between beats.
Note: If the numbers are >140/90 mmHG, it indicates that you have high blood pressure. In case your blood pressure is between 120/80 and 140/90, it is the stage of prehypertension, which means that if you do not take important steps to control it, it can elevate into severe complications.
What are the symptoms of high blood pressure?
Unfortunately most people who have high blood pressure do not have any symptoms. It is only after a routine check up, they get to know about their high hypertension numbers. This is why it is sometimes called as "the silent killer" and makes it important to have your blood pressure checked regularly.
What causes high blood pressure?
Several different things can cause high blood pressure. In general, there are 2 types of high blood pressure:
- Primary hypertension, also called "Essential Hypertension", is when there is no known cause for your high blood pressure. This type of blood pressure usually takes many years to develop and probably is a result of your lifestyle, environment, and how your body changes as you age.
- Secondary hypertension is when a health problem or medicine is causing your high blood pressure.
What are the risk factors for high blood pressure?
The following are some common factors that can lead to high blood pressure:
- A diet high in salt, fat, and/or cholesterol
- Chronic conditions such as kidney and hormone problems, diabetes, and high cholesterol
- Family history: You are more likely to have high blood pressure if your parents or other close relatives also have it
- Lack of physical activity
- Older age: The older you are, the more likely you are to have high blood pressure
- Overweight and obesity
- Some birth control medicines
- Tobacco use or drinking too much alcohol
How is high blood pressure diagnosed?
The only way to know whether your blood pressure is too high is to check it with a blood pressure monitor. You may also be asked to check your blood pressure at home and keep track of your numbers for your doctor. High-quality, automated arm blood pressure cuffs for home use can be purchased from market. Another option is to have you use an ambulatory blood pressure monitor.
How often should blood pressure be checked?
After age of 18, blood pressure should check at least once every 2 years. Do it more often if you have had high blood pressure in the past. Your doctor may even ask you to monitor your blood pressure twice daily at home.
No matter what medications your doctor prescribes to treat your high blood pressure, you'll need to make lifestyle changes to lower your blood pressure.
- Eating a healthier diet with less salt. Fruits and vegetables are rich in certain antioxidants that prevent narrowing of blood vessels.
- Exercising regularly at least 40 minute.
- Quitting smoking
- Limiting the amount of alcohol you drink
- Maintaining a healthy weight or losing weight if you're overweight or obese
- Stress management- Continuous stress may lead to the activation of sympathetic nervous system and causes hypertension.