Blood Pressure information
Blood pressure is a measurement of the pressure created as the heart pumps blood through the veins and arteries of the body, and normal blood pressure is the reading which most healthy adults have when their blood pressure is tested. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, can be very dangerous, as can hypotension, low blood pressure. The normal value for healthy young adults is around 120/80, while children tend to have slightly lower blood pressure, and older people have blood pressure which may be slightly higher. If your blood pressure exceeds 140/90, you will probably be asked to consider treating it, first with dietary changes and possibly with medication as well. The goal for healthy people is to achieve and maintain normal blood pressure.
The two values in a blood pressure measurement are the systolic and diastolic pressure. Systolic pressure is the high point, the moment when the heart contracts to push blood throughout the body. Diastolic pressure is the lowest point, when the heart relaxes and fills with blood before it pumps again. To measure blood pressure, a medical professional uses a sphygmomanometer, a device which can measure arterial blood pressure. Arterial blood pressure is measured because blood pressure values slowly decline as blood travels through the body, making arterial blood pressure a more accurate measure of health. A deviation from normal blood pressure suggests a medical problem.
When a patient's blood pressure is taken, a cuff or pressure sleeve is placed on the arm above the elbow. Blood pressure is taken at rest, with the legs and arms relaxed and the back supported. The cuff is inflated to apply pressure, causing the pulse in the radial artery to momentarily disappear. Next, the cuff is slowly deflated, to measure how much pressure the heart uses to open the artery which was temporarily blocked by the cuff. In the case of a patient with normal blood pressure, the value is recorded and the patient is often congratulated on his or her normal blood pressure value.
At routine medical examinations, blood pressure is always taken because it can indicate underlying health problems, while normal blood pressure can suggest that the patient is in good health. Some patients with abnormal blood pressure exhibit no symptoms, and may be unaware of the problem until it is brought to their attention in a medical office. Many factors can influence blood pressure levels including diet, exercise, physical conditions, stress, and tension. These are taken into account when looking at a blood pressure values, and if the patient is under extreme stress, he or she may be asked to relax so that a normal blood pressure reading can be taken.
In an abnormal blood pressure reading is obtained, usually it will be checked again to ensure that it is correct. If the reading is accurate, the doctor will talk to the patient about his or her lifestyle and habits, to see if a cause for the abnormal reading can be figured out. Doctor and patient will also discuss lifestyle changes which could be made to fix the problem, and the doctor may schedule follow-up appointments to rule out other medical problems through routine testing. During these follow-up appointments, the patient will be routinely tested until he or she has reached a level of normal blood pressure, at which point a maintenance regimen will be established.
What is High Blood Pressure?
When the blood pressure is high, it forces the heart to work harder than it should. The extra force of blood against the walls of the arteries can cause the arteries to harden. Also known as "the silent killer," this condition can lead to stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney failure or blindness. However, there are rarely any symptoms; the only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have it checked.
Blood pressure readings should always be viewed in regard to other conditions which may cause a temporary rise, including stress, fear, anger, fatigue, and anxiety at being in a doctor's office. High blood pressure can also be caused by cardiovascular and kidney disorders, neurological conditions, pre-eclampsia in pregnancy, and various medications.
Hypertension does not discriminate; anyone can develop it, regardless of age, race or gender. The good news is that this condition can be treated and prevented. While there are many medications designed to lower blood pressure, there are also lifestyle changes which can help. Losing weight, exercise, a healthy low-fat diet, and consuming less sodium and alcohol will contribute to lowering high blood pressure. Always talk to your doctor before making changes in diet or exercise, and have your blood pressure checked regularly.
What are the Risks of Low Blood Pressure?
For the most part, low blood pressure, or hypotension, is considered to be a sign of good health. This is because higher blood pressure places more pressure is on the heart and the circulatory system. For this reason, individuals who have a blood pressure that is low are usually at a lower risk of kidney disease, stroke, and heart disease. In some cases, however, low blood pressure may not be healthy and, like high blood pressure, carries some risks.
With very low blood pressure, the brain, heart, and other vital organs may not receive enough blood. Ultimately, this can cause these organs to fail to function properly and even to become permanently damaged. The lack of oxygen can also cause a person to experience blackouts, particularly when standing up or sitting up too quickly after lying down. This type is generally referred to as orthostatic hypotension.
Low blood pressure can also be a symptom of a variety of conditions, some of which are life threatening. These include dehydration, shock, advanced diabetes, heart failure, heart attack, and anaphylaxia, a life threatening allergic response. While blood pressure that is low does not cause these conditions, it can sometimes be the first sign of them.
For a person to be diagnosed as having low blood pressure, his or her blood pressure must be below 90/60. Normal blood pressure is considered to be anywhere from 90/60 to 120/80. It is possible for only one of these numbers to be less than the normal range, and in such cases, the blood pressure may still be generally considered low.
Regardless of the blood pressure reading, medical professionals do not usually diagnose a person with low blood pressure unless he or she is showing other signs or problems associated with the condition. Some of these signs include dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting for no apparent reason. Since blood pressure that is low enough to cause health problems is usually caused by other health problems, the first treatment plan is to treat the underlying cause. If there is no underlying cause, certain medications may be prescribed to regulate the blood pressure.