What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure (BP) is the pressure of circulating blood against the walls of blood vessels. Most of this pressure results from the heart pumping blood through the circulatory system. When used without qualification, the term "blood pressure" refers to the pressure in the large arteries. Blood pressure is one of the vital signs—together with respiratory rate, heart rate, oxygen saturation, Sugar and body temperature—that healthcare professionals use in evaluating a patient's health. Blood pressure that is too low is called Hypotension, pressure that is consistently too high is called Hypertension, and normal pressure is called Normal tension.
What do blood pressure numbers mean?
Blood Pressure is measured using two numbers:
The first number, called systolic blood pressure, measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats.
The second number, called diastolic blood pressure, measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart rests between beats.
For example, if your blood pressure is “140 over 90” or 140/90mmHg, it means you have a systolic pressure of 140 mmHg and a diastolic pressure of90mmHg.
As a general rule, ideal blood pressure is considered to be between90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg.
No matter your age, you can take steps each day to keep your blood pressure in a healthy range.
Low Blood Pressure (Hypotension)
Blood pressure that is too low is known as hypotension. A blood pressure reading lower than 90 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) for the top number (systolic) or 60 mm Hg for the bottom number (diastolic) is generally considered low blood pressure.
Sudden drops in blood pressure most commonly occur in someone who's rising from a lying down or sitting position to standing. This kind of low blood pressure is known as postural hypotension or orthostatic hypotension. Another type of low blood pressure can occur when someone stands for a long period of time. This is called neutrally mediated hypotension.
Chronic low blood pressure with no symptoms is almost never serious. But health problems can occur when blood pressure drops suddenly and the brain is deprived of an adequate blood supply.
What are the signs and symptoms of low blood pressure?
The most common symptoms of sudden dip in the blood pressure include:
● Dizziness or light-headedness
● Blurred or fading vision
● Lack of concentration
What causes low blood pressure?
Medical conditions that can cause low blood pressure include:
● Pregnancy. Because the circulatory system expands rapidly during pregnancy, blood pressure is likely to drop. This is normal, and blood pressure usually returns to your pre-pregnancy level after you've given birth.
● Heart problems. Some heart conditions can lead to low blood pressure such as extremely low heart rate(bradycardia), heart valve problems, heart attack and heart failure.
● Endocrine problems. Parathyroid disease, adrenal insufficiency (Addison's disease), low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and, in some cases, diabetes can trigger low blood pressure.
● Dehydration. When your body loses more water than it takes in, it can cause weakness, dizziness and fatigue. Fever, vomiting, severe diarrhea, overuse of diuretics and strenuous exercise can lead to dehydration.
● Blood loss. Losing a lot of blood, such as from a major injury or internal bleeding, leads to a severe drop in blood pressure.
● Severe infection (septicemia).When an infection in the body enters the bloodstream, it can lead to a life-threatening drop in blood pressure called septic shock.
● Severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).Anaphylaxis can cause breathing problems, hives, itching, a swollen throat and a dangerous drop in blood pressure.
● Lack of nutrients in your diet. A lack of the vitamin B-12, folate and iron can keep your body from producing enough red blood cells (anemia), causing low blood pressure.
● Side effects of some medications. Medications like those used for Parkinson’s, certain antidepressants, and drugs for Erectile Dysfunction can lead to low blood pressure. For a full list, please consult a medical specialist.
What can I do to prevent or manage low blood pressure?
Most people with low blood pressure do not need medications or other medical interventions to raise blood pressure. There are plenty of natural ways and lifestyle changes to raise low blood pressure, including the following lifestyle changes.
1. Eat more salt
● Contrary to popular advice, low-sodium diets are not good for everyone with blood pressure problems.
● People with low blood pressure should consider increasing their sodium intake moderately to help raise blood pressure.
2. Avoid alcoholic beverages
○ Alcohol can lower blood pressure further, so people with low blood pressure should avoid drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.
3.Discuss medications with a doctor
○ Low blood pressure can be a side effect of a variety of medications.
○ If symptoms of low blood pressure begin after starting a medication, immediately discuss the symptoms with their doctor.
4.Cross legs while sitting
○ Crossing the legs while sitting has been shown to increase blood pressure. For people with high blood pressure, this can be a problem. For people with low blood pressure symptoms, crossed legs may help increase blood pressure with minimal effort.
○ Drinking more water can help increase blood volume, which can alleviate one of the potential causes of low blood pressure. It can also help avoid dehydration.
6.Eat small meals frequently
○ Eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day may help with low blood pressure. This is because the smaller meals help prevent a drop in blood pressure associated with eating larger, heavier meals.
7.Wear compression stockings
○ Compression stockings help reduce the amount of blood that gets caught in the lower legs and feet, shifting it elsewhere.
○ Compression stockings are also used to help relieve pressure and pain associated with varicose veins.
8.Avoid sudden position changes
○ Sitting up or standing up rapidly can cause a feeling of lightheadedness, dizziness, or potential fainting in people with low blood pressure.
○ In these cases, the heart has not pumped enough blood through the body quickly enough to account for the sudden change in position or elevation.
9.Be aware of symptoms
○ Low blood pressure is only considered a problem if symptoms exist. If there are no symptoms present, low blood pressure should be taken as a sign of good health.
● It is important for a person to know the symptoms and what to look out for if their low blood pressure starts to cause problems.
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is blood pressure that is higher than normal. Your blood pressure changes throughout the day based on your activities. Having blood pressure measures consistently above normal may result in a diagnosis of high blood pressure (or hypertension). High blood pressure is often related to unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as smoking, drinking too much alcohol, being overweight and not exercising enough.
The higher your blood pressure levels, the more risk you have for other health problems, such as heart disease, kidney disease, heart attack, and stroke.
High blood pressure is called the “silent killer” because it usually has no warning signs or symptoms, and many people do not know they have it.
What are the signs and symptoms of high blood pressure?
Most people with high blood pressure have no signs or symptoms, even if blood pressure readings reach dangerously high levels. A few people with high blood pressure may have headaches, shortness of breath or nosebleeds, but these signs and symptoms aren't specific and usually don't occur until high blood pressure has reached a severe or life-threatening stage.
What causes high blood pressure?
High blood pressure usually develops over time. It can happen because of unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as not getting enough regular physical activity. Certain health conditions, such as diabetes and obesity, can also increase the risk for developing high blood pressure. High blood pressure can also happen during pregnancy.
What problems does high blood pressure cause?
High blood pressure can damage your health in many ways. It can seriously hurt important organs like your heart, brain, kidneys, and eyes. The good news is that, in most cases, you can manage your blood pressure to lower your risk for serious health problems.
- Heart Attack and Heart Disease
High blood pressure can damage your arteries by making them less elastic, which decreases the flow of blood and oxygen to your heart and leads to heart disease. In addition, decreased blood flow to the heart can cause:
● Chest pain, also called angina.
● Heart attack, which happens when the blood supply to your heart is blocked and heart muscle begins to die without enough oxygen. The longer the blood flow is blocked, the greater the damage to the heart.
● Heart failure, a condition that means your heart can’t pump enough blood and oxygen to your other organs.
2. Stroke and Brain Problems
High blood pressure can cause the arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the brain to burst or be blocked, causing a stroke. Brain cells die during a stroke because they do not get enough oxygen. Stroke can cause serious disabilities in speech, movement, and other basic activities. A stroke can also kill you. Having high blood pressure, especially in midlife, is linked to having poorer cognitive function and dementia later in life.
3. Kidney Disease
Adults with diabetes, high blood pressure, or both have a higher risk of developing chronic kidney disease than those without these conditions.
What can I do to prevent or manage high blood pressure?
Many people with high blood pressure can lower their blood pressure into a healthy range or keep their numbers in a healthy range by making lifestyle changes.
● Getting at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week (about 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week)
● Not smoking
● Eating a healthy diet, especially limiting sodium (salt) and alcohol
● Keeping a healthy weight
● Not taking much stress
By taking action to lower your blood pressure, you can help protect yourself against the silent killer.
How do I know if I have abnormal blood pressure?
There’s only one way to know if you have high/low blood pressure: Measuring it regularly. Measuring your blood pressure is a quick and painless process. You can either go for regular checkups and have a medical professional measure, or can do it yourself at home, called self-measured blood pressure (SMBP) monitoring, using several monitoring devices.
Blood pressure changes are common during the day and hence keeping a track of such measurements over a long period of time will help your medical professional assess your well being and offer you the best advice. Based on the results, a doctor may conduct further tests, diagnose a problem, or suggest lifestyle changes.