Blood Pressure

Normal blood pressure is vital to life. Without the pressure that forces our blood to flow around the circulatory system, no oxygen or nutrients would be delivered through our arteries to the tissues and organs.

However, blood pressure can become dangerously high, and it can also get too low.

Blood pressure is the force that moves blood through our circulatory system.

It is an important force because oxygen and nutrients would not be pushed around our circulatory system to nourish tissues and organs without blood pressure.

Blood pressure is also vital because it delivers white blood cells and antibodies for immunity, and hormones such as insulin.

Just as important as providing oxygen and nutrients, the fresh blood that gets delivered is able to pick up the toxic waste products of metabolism, including the carbon dioxide we exhale with every breath, and the toxins we clear through our liver and kidneys.

Blood itself carries a number of other properties, including its temperature. It also carries one of our defenses against tissue damage, the clotting platelets that prevent blood loss following injury.

But what exactly is it that causes blood to exert a pressure in our arteries? Part of the answer is simple - the heart creates blood pressure by forcing out blood when it contracts with every heartbeat. Blood pressure, however, cannot be created solely by the pumping heart.

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Blood pressure is the measure of the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls. The heartpumps blood into blood vessels, which carry the blood throughout the body. High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is dangerous because it makes the heart work harder to pump blood out to the body and contributes to hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis, to stroke, kidney disease, and to heart failure.

What Is "Normal" Blood Pressure?

A blood pressure reading is written like this: 120/80. It's read as "120 over 80." The top number is called the systolic, and bottom number is called the diastolic. The ranges are:

  • Normal: Less than 120 over 80 (120/80)
  • Elevated: 120-129/less than 80
  • Stage 1 high blood pressure: 130-139/80-89
  • Stage 2 high blood pressure: 140 and above/90 and above
  • Hypertension crisis: higher than 180/higher than 120 -- See a doctor right away

If your blood pressure is above the normal range, talk to your doctor about how to lower it.

Risk factors can be divided into three main categories:

1. Risk factors you cannot control. These include your parents (determining your ethnicity, your genes and therefore your family history) and your age.

2. Risk factors you can control. These include overweight, lack of exercise, smoking, wrong food choices, use of the contraceptive pill, use of anti-inflammatory drugs, and the use of certain recreational drugs.

3. Associated diseases or organ damage can also increase your total risk. These include high blood cholesterol levels, existing heart disease, angina, heart failure, diabetes, previous stroke (including so-called mini-strokes), kidney damage, damage to the retina of the eye, and damage to the blood vessels.

High blood pressure often has no symptoms. Over time, if untreated, it can cause health conditions, such as heart disease and stroke.

One high reading does not mean you have high blood pressure. It is necessary to measure your blood pressure at different times, while you are resting comfortably for at least five minutes. To make the diagnosis of hypertension, at least three readings that are elevated are usually required.

Treatment consists of self care and diuretics

Eating a healthier diet with less salt, exercising regularly and taking medication can help lower blood pressure.

Self-care :

Physical exercise

Aerobic activity for 20–30 minutes 5 days a week improves cardiovascular health. If injured, pursuing an activity that avoids the injured muscle group or joint can help maintain physical function while recovering.

Stress management

Pursuing an enjoyable activity or verbalising frustration to reduce stress and improve mental health.

Quitting smoking

Quitting smoking tobacco.

Home blood pressure monitors

Regular monitoring of blood pressure can help diagnose high blood pressure.

Low sodium diet

A diet that restricts salt (sodium chloride) and other forms of sodium to no more than 2,000 mg per day

Medications :

ACE inhibitor

Relaxes blood vessels, lowers blood pressure and prevents diabetes-related kidney damage.

Diuretic

Increases urine production to get rid of excess salt and water.

Beta blocker

Slows heart rate and decreases blood pressure. When taken in eye-drop form, it reduces eye pressure.

Antihypertensive drug

Lowers blood pressure.

Calcium channel blocker

Relaxes blood vessels.

Vasodilator

Widens blood vessels.

Eating a diet that is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables andlow-fat dairy products and skimps on saturated fat and cholesterol can lower your blood pressure by up to 11 mm Hg if you have high blood pressure. This eating plan is known as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet

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