Understanding High Blood Pressure

Guest Post by Carrington College

Understanding High Blood Pressure

When blood flows through your arteries, it puts pressure on the surrounding walls as it moves. This is referred to as blood pressure, which is a measurement that doctors and nurses routinely take. When you have your blood pressure checked, your doctor or nurse is seeing if it’s too high, which can put your health at risk. Knowing more about high blood pressure can help you understand how it affects your body. The staff at Carrington College created the following infographic with more detailed information on this condition.

Blood Pressure Readings

When you have your blood pressure taken, it produces a reading that contains two numbers. The number at the top, called systolic, shows how much pressure is in your arteries while your heart is beating. The bottom number, called diastolic, indicates how much pressure there is between heartbeats. A normal reading is 120 over 80, and anything higher than that is cause for concern.

High Blood Pressure Statistics

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute estimates that high blood pressure occurs in about one-third of adults in the US, making this a common condition. Roughly 52 percent of those diagnosed with this high blood pressure are able to manage it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC also estimates that one in five adults aren’t aware that they have this condition.

Risk Factors for High Blood Pressure

Certain factors can increase your risk of having high blood pressure, including gender, weight and age. High blood pressure occurs in men more often than women up to age 44, but at age 65 and up, more women than men are diagnosed with it. Being obese, eating an unhealthy diet and not being physically active also make you more likely to have high blood pressure. Other risk factors include regular alcohol use and family history of high blood pressure.

Effects of High Blood Pressure

Having a higher amount of pressure in your arteries as your blood flows through can cause serious health effects, including organ damage. High blood pressure can hurt your kidneys, eyes, heart and brain. It raises your risk of having heart problems, blood clots and stroke. Since symptoms don’t often show up until damage has been done, it’s important for high blood pressure to be diagnosed early.

Managing High Blood Pressure

If you have high blood pressure, there are several effective ways to manage this condition and keep your numbers under control. Switching to a low-salt, high-fiber diet that includes a lot of fresh produce can help. Working out for 30 minutes or more a day for at least five days a week can also help you manage high blood pressure. Taking prescription medications and reducing stress are other ways to help keep high blood pressure under control.

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About High Blood Pressure

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Known as the “silent killer,” high blood pressure (HBP) often shows no obvious symptoms. There are over 3 million cases of high blood pressure per year and it is most common in people over the age of 65.  If you have high blood pressure, you are not alone. Nearly half of American adults have HBP. If you are unsure if you have high blood pressure, the best way to find out is to get it checked. High blood pressure or hypertension means the pressure in your arteries is elevated. Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls. When left untreated, the high blood pressure forcing through your circulatory system can put you are greater risk for heart attack, stroke, and other health risks.

Those at a higher risk:

  • Have relatives with HBP
  • African Americans
  • Are over the age of 35
  • Overweight individuals
  • Aren’t physically active
  • Eat too much salt
  • Drink too much alcohol
  • Have diabetes, gout, or kidney disease
  • Are pregnant
  • Taking birth control

Taking your medication:

  • You may be prescribed multiple medications.
  • Medicine is most effective when taken regularly.
  • Ceasing to take medication without consulting your physician can be dangerous.
  • Even after your blood pressure is lowered, you may still need to take medicine – perhaps over a lifetime, to keep a normal blood pressure.

Remembering to take medications:

  • Take them at the same time daily.
  • Take with meals or other reoccurring daily events.
  • Use a weekly pill box.
  • Use a calendar.
  • Leave notes to remind yourself.

Side Effects

  • Weakness, tiredness, or drowsiness
  • Impotence
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Depression, sluggishness, trouble sleeping, nightmares
  • Slow or fast heartbeat
  • Skin rash
  • Loss of taste or dry mouth
  • Dry, constant cough, stuffy nose, or asthma symptoms
  • Ankle swelling, leg cramps, or joint aches
  • Headache, dizziness or swelling around the eyes
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Fever or anemia

Preventing high blood pressure:

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Increase physical activity.
  • Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods.
  • Consume less salt.
  • Limit alcohol intake.
  • Avoid smoking.

High Blood Pressure and Those Who Are At Higher Risk

High blood pressure (HBP) or hypertension means the pressure in your arteries is elevated. Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls. It’s written as two numbers, such as 112/78 mm Hg.  So what does that mean?

The top is the systolic number which is the pressure when the heart beats. The bottom is the diastolic number which is the pressure when the heart rests between beats. Normal blood pressure is around 120/80 mm Hg. If you are over 18 years old and your systolic pressure is 120 to 139, or your diastolic pressure is closer to 89 (or both), then you could have prehypertension.

High blood pressure is a pressure of 140 systolic or higher and/or 90 diastolic or higher that stays high over time. No one knows exactly what causes most cases of high blood pressure. It usually can’t be cured, but it can be controlled. High blood pressure usually has no symptoms. It is known as the “silent killer.” Therefore, you should have your blood pressure checked regularly by your physician.  About 72 million Americans and 1 in 3 adults have it, and many don’t even know they have it. Not treating high blood pressure is dangerous and it increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. You can live a healthier life if you treat and control it!

Those who are at higher risk:

  • Individuals with close blood relatives who have high blood pressure
  • African Americans
  • People over the age of 35
  • Overweight individuals.
  • Individuals who aren’t physically active
  • Individuals consuming too much salt
  • Individuals who drink too much alcohol
  • Individuals with diabetes, gout, or Kidney Disease
  • Women who are pregnant
  • Women who take birth control pills, who are overweight, had high blood pressure during pregnancy, have a family history of HBP or have mild kidney disease

Next Article: High Blood Pressure Medicine and Side Effects.

(Adapted from the American Heart Association)

High blood pressure (HBP) or hypertension means the pressure in your arteries is elevated. Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls. It’s written as two numbers, such as 112/78 mm Hg. The top is the systolic number which is the pressure when the heart beats. The bottom is the diastolic number which is the pressure when the heart rests between beats. Normal blood pressure is around 120/80 mm Hg. If you are over 18 years old and your systolic pressure is 120 to 139, or your diastolic pressure is closer to 89 (or both), then you could have prehypertension.

High blood pressure is a pressure of 140 systolic or higher and/or 90 diastolic or higher that stays high over time. No one knows exactly what causes most cases of high blood pressure. It usually can’t be cured, but it can be controlled. High blood pressure usually has no symptoms. It is known as the “silent killer.” Therefore, you should have your blood pressure checked regularly by your physician. About 72 million Americans and 1 in 3 adults have it, and many don’t even know they have it. Not treating high blood pressure is dangerous and it increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. You can live a healthier life if you treat and control it!

Those who are at higher risk:

· Individuals with close blood relatives who have high blood pressure.

· African Americans.

· People over the age of 35.

· Overweight individuals.

· Individuals who aren’t physically active.

· Individuals consuming too much salt.

· Individuals who drink too much alcohol.

· Individuals with diabetes, gout, or Kidney Disease.

· Women who are pregnant.

· Women who take birth control pills, who are overweight, had high blood pressure during pregnancy, have a family history of HBP or have mild kidney disease.

High Blood Pressure and Those Who Are At Higher Risk

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High blood pressure (HBP) or hypertension means the pressure in your arteries is elevated. Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls.  No one knows exactly what causes most cases of high blood pressure. It usually can’t be cured, but it can be controlled.

So who is at higher risk for high blood pressure?

  • Individuals with close blood relatives who have high blood pressure.
  • African Americans.
  • People over the age of 35.
  • Overweight individuals.
  • Individuals who aren’t physically active.
  • Individuals consuming too much salt.
  • Individuals who drink too much alcohol.
  • Individuals with diabetes, gout, or Kidney Disease.
  • Women who are pregnant.
  • Women who take birth control pills, who are overweight, had high blood pressure during pregnancy, have a family history of HBP or have mild kidney disease.

Not treating high blood pressure is dangerous and it increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. You can live a healthier life if you treat and control it! Here’s what you can do to prevent high blood pressure:

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Getting physical activity in your daily routine.
  • A healthy eating plan that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods.
  • Choosing and preparing foods with less sodium (salt).
  • Limit alcohol intake (if you drink).
  • Quit smoking (if you smoke).

Coming Next: Helpful Tips to Take Your Blood Pressure Medications Safely and Side Effects to Watch For

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