Blood pressure is the measure of the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls. The heart pumps 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.
Everybody’s blood pressure goes up and down throughout the day. Walking to work, meditating, stressing about your Facebook feed, taking that sweet afternoon nap, and pounding a triple shot espresso all influence your blood pressure. There’s even a thing called “White Coat Hypertension” where people report higher than normal blood pressure readings due to the stress of just being in a doctor’s office with a cuff strapped to your arm. Blood pressure is a moving target. It’s not the end of the world if it spikes every now and then.
Regular visits with your doctor are also key to controlling your blood pressure. If your blood pressure is well-controlled, check with your doctor about how often you need to check it. Your doctor may suggest checking it daily or less often. If you're making any changes in your medications or other treatments, your doctor may recommend you check your blood pressure starting two weeks after treatment changes and a week before your next appointment.
Those tears make nice resting places for excess cholesterol. That means that the damage high blood pressure creates inside arteries and blood vessels can actually lead to even more plaque buildup and artery narrowing because of high blood cholesterol. In turn, your heart has to work even harder to pump blood, putting excess strain on your heart muscle.
Blood pressure is measured with a blood pressure cuff (sphygmomanometer). This may be done using a stethoscope and a cuff and gauge or by an automatic machine. It is a routine part of the physical examination and one of the vital signs often recorded for a patient visit. Other vital signs include pulse rate, respiratory rate (breathing rate), temperature, and weight.
Stroke. A stroke occurs when part of your brain is deprived of oxygen and nutrients, causing brain cells to die. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to stroke by damaging and weakening your brain's blood vessels, causing them to narrow, rupture or leak. High blood pressure can also cause blood clots to form in the arteries leading to your brain, blocking blood flow and potentially causing a stroke.
Isolated systolic hypertension occurs when the top number of a blood pressure reading (systolic blood pressure) is high and the bottom number (diastolic blood pressure) is normal. Isolated systolic hypertension is most common along older adults, but is also found in young and middle-aged adults. It’s important for patients with isolated systolic hypertension to work with their doctors to determine the best possible treatment to achieve a healthy blood pressure and reduce risk of complications.
If you’re diagnosed with high cholesterol, it means that the level of cholesterol in your blood is higher than what is believed to be healthy. Cholesterol is a type of fatty substance that your body uses to make certain hormones, produce vitamin D, and build healthy cells. We manufacture some of it in our bodies and get some of it from the foods we eat.
A meta-analysis of individual patient data from randomized controlled trials found the lowest diastolic blood pressure for which cardiovascular outcomes improve is 85 mm Hg for untreated hypertensives and 80 mm Hg for treated hypertensives. The authors concluded "poor health conditions leading to low blood pressure and an increased risk for death probably explain the J-shaped curve". Interpreting the meta-analysis is difficult, but avoiding a diastolic blood pressure below 68–70 mm Hg seems reasonable because:
Omega-3 fatty acids: A type of healthy polyunsaturated fat that you need for many different bodily functions. It helps protect against heart disease and stroke. Human bodies can't make omega-3s. There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids: ALA, found in flaxseed, soybean and canola oils, and some green vegetables like kale and spinach; and DHA and EPA, found in fatty fish.
One reason to visit your doctor regularly is to have your blood pressure checked. Routine checks of your blood pressure will help pick up an early rise in blood pressure, even though you might feel fine. If there's an indication that your blood pressure is high at two or more checkups, the doctor may ask you to check your blood pressure at home at different times of the day. If the pressure stays high, even when you are relaxed, the doctor may suggest exercise, changes in your diet, and, most likely, medications.
Doctors typically use an inflatable arm cuff to measure blood pressure, which is recorded in millimeters of mercury (abbreviated as “mmHg”) and has two numbers. The top number, called systolic blood pressure, measures pressure in the arteries when the heart beats. The bottom number, called diastolic blood pressure, refers to blood pressure when the heart is at rest. When patients have a blood pressure above normal (120/80 mmHg), they are considered to have prehypertension or hypertension.
Eating whole grains like whole wheat breads, brown rice, whole grain cereals, oatmeal, whole wheat pasta, and popcorn is a good way to get fiber. Some fiber helps lower your cholesterol and also keeps you feeling full longer. For a diet of 2,000 calories per day: Eat six to eight servings a day. One serving is a slice of bread, 1 ounce of dry cereal, or ½ cup of cooked whole wheat pasta, rice, or oatmeal (about the size of half a baseball).
Fifteen natural ways to lower your blood pressure High blood pressure can damage the heart. It is common, affecting one in three people in the U.S. and 1 billion people worldwide. We describe why stress, sodium, and sugar can raise blood pressure and why berries, dark chocolate, and certain supplements may help to lower it. Learn about these factors and more here. Read now