Did you know that your heart beats around 100,000 times each day? Heart health is a serious concern for people of all ages. After all, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Always being aware of your heart health, including blood pressure, can help prevent heart disease and even heart attack.
But what is high blood pressure? High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is quite common. In fact, nearly half of adults in the United States have high blood pressure. This is where the blood vessels are harder and narrower than normal, resulting in increased blood pressure.
If left untreated, this condition can cause serious complications such as heart attack or stroke. It is the leading cause of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Blood pressure problems can strike people at any age. However, it’s more common among people who are older and have other risk factors like diabetes or obesity.
The good news is that this condition can usually be managed easily with lifestyle changes and appropriate medications. Here we will look at its symptoms, causes and treatment ways to manage your heart health.
What is Normal Blood Pressure?
One of the most common questions people will ask is about normal blood pressure levels. Here’s how it works:
- Blood pressure is measured in two numbers, such as 120/80, which refers to the systolic (the top number) and diastolic (the bottom number) pressures in the arteries.
- Normal blood pressure is when the top number is less than 120 and the bottom number is less than 80.
- Elevated blood pressure is typically 120-129 (top number) and the bottom number is less than 80.
- High blood pressure is a top number of 130 or higher. The bottom number is 80 or higher.
- In older adults, the top number may be higher than 130 and the bottom is lower than 80. This is called isolated systolic hypertension. It’s an age-related condition that happens from the stiffening of the major arteries.
- If you have problems with blood pressure, you may not feel any different. However, blood pressure that’s too high can increase your risk of heart attacks and strokes, so it’s important to know your numbers.
How to Measure Your Blood Pressure
Now that you know the healthy blood pressure range, how do you measure for it?
You can buy a blood pressure monitor from Palm Harbor Pharmacy, or visit your family doctor. Blood pressure monitors are available over the counter, and they are a good option if you have trouble reading your blood pressure at home or are less mobile.
Blood pressure monitors work by pressing a cuff against your arm and measuring your blood pressure as it flows through your arm. The important thing to remember is to sit still and quiet for a few minutes before taking your blood pressure. The less stressed you are, the more accurate your reading will be.
Keep in mind that stress can cause short-term spikes in blood pressure, resulting in an inaccurate reading.
Signs and Symptoms of High Blood Pressure
You may not have immediate access to check your blood pressure. If not, there are several signs to keep in mind. Knowing the symptoms can tell you when it’s time to visit your family doctor. These are some of the signs and symptoms if your blood pressure is too high:
- Headaches: Headaches are a common symptom. Your blood pressure can put a strain on the blood vessels which may result in headaches.
- Dizziness: If your blood pressure drops, you may experience dizziness. This happens because of a lack of oxygen supply to the brain.
- Blurred vision: This symptom results from bleeding in the tissue at the back of the eye. It can ultimately lead to complete loss of vision.
- Chest pain: It is possible for people with high blood pressure to experience chest pain. This may be due to a blood clot or a heart attack.
- Shortness of breath: You may experience shortness of breath when doing simple tasks, such as climbing the stairs. This is due to the increased strain on the heart.
- Feeling tired: When blood pressure is high, the heart has to work harder to pump the blood throughout the body. This can lead to people with high blood pressure feeling tired.
Please do not ignore these potential signs. If you are experiencing chest pains, please call 911 or visit your closest emergency room immediately.
Causes of High Blood Pressure
As you can see, blood pressure can wreak havoc on your health. But what causes this condition in the first place? There are several factors, including:
- Age: As we age, the walls of our blood vessels become less elastic, which makes it harder for them to expand as blood passes through them. This leads to higher blood pressure.
- Weight: Obesity is a strong risk factor for high blood pressure. People who are overweight or obese are at an increased risk of developing this condition because their bodies require more blood to sustain them.
- Little to No Exercise: A lack of exercise and eating an unhealthy diet can also increase your risk of blood pressure problems.
- Genetics: Your blood pressure may link to genetic factors. However, the reason may also be that you are in a similar environment as your family.
- Diet: Your diet is one of the most important factors that can affect blood pressure. Eating a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables can help to keep your blood pressure in a healthy range.
Treatment: Lifestyle & Medication
Did you recently discover that you have high blood pressure? How do you treat it? Consider the following advice:
- Lifestyle changes: People who are having problems with their blood pressure should make a few simple lifestyle changes. These include eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise.
- Medication: If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, your doctor will likely recommend medication to help to bring it back to a healthy level.
- Visit a dietitian: A healthy diet is one of the best ways to manage your blood pressure, especially if you’re taking medication for it.
- Regular checkups at the doctor: Keep close tabs on your blood pressure readings and follow your family doctor’s guidance.
High blood pressure is a condition that can be managed with lifestyle changes and treatment. If you have been diagnosed, it is important to make the necessary changes to prevent complications or even death.
If you have questions please reach out to us at Palm Harbor Pharmacy. We also have a blood pressure monitor that you can purchase and use at home. Please contact us or stop by the pharmacy to learn more.