What is High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure, also known as Hypertension, is a condition where the force of your blood pushing against your artery walls is consistently too high. It is dangerous because it makes the heart work harder to pump blood throughout the body, which can damage your blood vessels.
Ideally, a person’s blood pressure should be 120/80 mmHg or lower to be considered normal; however, if it is 140/90 mmHg or higher it is considered as high blood pressure. If high blood pressure is left for too long and is not treated it can lead to several health issues including stroke, kidney disease, vision loss, atherosclerosis, and heart failure.
What causes high blood pressure in women, men, and young adults?
High blood pressure often develops over time and can be caused due to hereditary or lifestyle factors such as the following:
- Genes – Some people are genetically prone to developing hypertension. This could result from genetic abnormalities or gene mutations passed down from your parents.
- Being overweight or obese – Obesity can cause several heart problems, such as hypertension.
- Consuming high amounts of alcohol – Men who regularly consume more than two drinks each day and women who regularly consume more than one, may be at higher risk for high blood pressure.
- Lack of exercise – Leading a very sedentary lifestyle has been linked to high blood pressure.
- Smoking – Smoking has been linked to malignant hypertension and causes a rapid rise in blood pressure and heart rate.
- Age – People over the age of 65 are more likely to develop hypertension.
- Having diabetes or metabolic syndrome – People who have been diagnosed with either diabetes or metabolic syndrome are more likely to develop hypertension.
- Taking birth control pills – Women who take birth control pills containing estrogen long-term have a risk of developing high blood pressure.
- Race – Black non-Hispanic people have a higher risk of developing hypertension.
- Stress – Stress can result in hypertension by repeatedly raising blood pressure.
- High sodium consumption – There is a possible connection between hypertension and daily excessive sodium consumption (greater than 1.5g).
How do you feel when BP is high/low?
People often do not feel any symptoms when they have high blood pressure. Therefore, it is often known as a silent killer. It is crucial to go for regular check-ups and regularly measure blood pressure. You can schedule an appointment online or call to schedule your appointment for same day appointment with a primary care doctor in Riverview to seek help regarding high blood pressure.
If symptoms occur, they can include early morning headaches, nosebleeds, abnormal heart rhythms, and eyesight abnormalities.
When high blood pressure is severe, people may experience fatigue, nausea, vomiting, bewilderment, anxiety, chest pain, and trembling of the muscles. Similarly, people with low blood pressure may experience blurred vision, nausea, weakness, light-headedness, and confusion.
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How can I lower my blood pressure quickly?
If you experience a sudden rise in blood pressure, you can try the following methods to lower it immediately
- Take a warm shower or bath – Enjoy the warm water in your shower or bath for at least 15 minutes. Additionally, it can ease tension in the muscles.
- Practice deep breathing – Breathe deeply from the center of your body, hold the breath for about two seconds, and then gently let it out. Take a break for a few seconds, then repeat.
- Have a glass of water – Drinking a glass of water can help because dehydration can cause your blood pressure to increase.
- Engage in some mild exercise – Go for a walk or do some light stretching to lower your blood pressure.
- Eat some dark chocolate – Flavonoids found in dark chocolate have been shown to reduce blood pressure.
What to do when BP is high/low?
If you believe you have high/low blood pressure visit a healthcare professional right away. Your physician will establish a long-term healthcare plan to successfully manage your high/low blood pressure. However, if your blood pressure is 180/120 or greater, or if you experience any of the following symptoms, you require emergency care and should be rushed to the hospital immediately:
- Chest pain
- Difficulty in breathing
- Difficulty in speaking
- Sudden changes in vision
- Sudden back pain
- Weakness or numbness
How is high blood pressure treated?
High blood pressure treatment includes several lifestyle changes. In addition, your doctor may also prescribe medications to help treat your high blood pressure.
The following are a few methods for managing your blood pressure:
- Taking medication to lower blood pressure
- Losing excess weight
- Quitting smoking
- Regularly engaging in low-impact exercise
- Reducing alcohol and caffeine intake
- Having a balanced and healthy diet with less sodium, sugar, refined carbohydrates, and processed foods
- Avoiding or managing stress
- Having a proper sleep schedule
What tests are done to diagnose BP?
Your physician will perform a blood pressure test to see whether your readings are higher than usual.
The test is easy and painless and is performed using a gauge, stethoscope, or electronic sensor and a blood pressure cuff.
The blood pressure is measured using mm HG during the test (millimeters of mercury).
Other tests to diagnose BP include:
- Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring – This test enables 24-hour recordings of your blood pressure (BP) readings. A small digital blood pressure monitor is worn around the waist that is connected to a cuff wrapped around the upper arm by a belt. It is small enough to not interfere with your daily activities and can even be worn while you’re sleeping.
- Lab tests – Blood and urine tests are used in laboratories to look for conditions that can aggravate or cause high blood pressure. They can include tests to examine your blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Moreover, lab tests to examine the function of your thyroid, liver, and kidneys may also be performed.
- Exercise stress test – A medical professional will take a patient's blood pressure before, during, and after they use a treadmill or stationary bike. The results can provide crucial information regarding heart health.
- Electrocardiogram (EKG) – The heart's electrical activity is examined using an EKG. A physician may prescribe an EKG as a baseline for comparing future outcomes for a patient with hypertension and high cholesterol levels. Future results that differ from the current ones could indicate the onset of coronary artery disease or thickening of the heart wall.
- Echocardiogram – Sound waves are used in this non-invasive scan to provide highly detailed images of the beating heart. It illustrates how the blood flows through the heart and the heart's valves.
Get Your Blood Pressure Checked.
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When should I see my doctor?
Healthcare professionals frequently take your blood pressure during regular appointments. To determine whether you have high blood pressure, you will frequently require more than one reading.
Additionally, you can invest in your own blood pressure cuff to take readings more frequently.
Visit your doctor if your blood pressure is 140/90 or higher on two or more occasions or if it is usually normal but goes above 120/80 on more than one occasion.
You should seek immediate medical attention if your blood pressure is 180/120 or higher or are experiencing a severe headache, chest pain, or blurry vision.
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- Fuchs, F. D., & Whelton, P. K. (2020). High Blood Pressure and Cardiovascular Disease. Hypertension (1979), 75(2), 285-292. https://doi.org/10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.119.14240
- Hegde S, Ahmed I, Aeddula NR. Secondary Hypertension. [Updated 2022 Nov 23]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK544305/
- High blood pressure. (2022). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. cdc.gov/bloodpressure/index.htm
- High blood pressure. (2022). National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/high-blood-pressure