Understanding blood pressure and maintaining healthy readings are essential for our overall health and long life. It is among the most common indicators of health as far as the heart is concerned. Blood pressure is also vital for getting nutrients and oxygen-rich blood to flow to various parts of the body. Read on to know how to interpret blood pressure numbers, factors that affect it, and effective ways of treating high pressure.
Tips for Interpreting Blood Pressure
Medical experts use a blood pressure cuff to measure blood pressure. They record the measurement as two numbers, for instance, 120/88 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury). They usually take the measurements at the upper arm above the brachial artery.
- Systolic Pressure: This is the upper, larger number. It measures the pressure produced when the heart pumps. It mirrors the pressure of blood in contrast to arterial walls.
- Diastolic Pressure: This is the lower, small number. It represents the level of pressure inside the arteries when the blood is flowing back, and the heart is resting between heartbeats.
New Guidelines for Interpreting Blood Pressure Numbers
In late 2017, the American Heart Association (AHA) unveiled a new set of stringent guidelines that have increased the proportion of Americans diagnosed with hypertension. Here are the updates.
- Higher Emphasis on Diagnosis: The AHA is encouraging Americans to stay up-to-date with their readings. The association recommends taking measurements regularly not only at the doctors’ office but also at home.
- Elimination of Prehypertension: By getting rid of Prehypertension class, more people in America now fall into the broad range of heightened blood pressure. This decision aims at identifying more people who have high pressure and devising prevention and treatment strategies for helping them when the condition is still in its early stages.
- New “Elevated” Blood Pressure: This category consists of people with systolic measurements of 120-129 mm Hg and diastolic measurement of below 80 mm HG.
- Stage 1 Hypertension: In the past, Stage 1 hypertension consisted of systolic measurement of more than 140 to 153 mm HG and diastolic measurement of over 90 to 96 mm HG. The current definition has adjusted the systolic reading to 130-139 mm and diastolic ones to more than 100 mm HG.
- Stage 2 Hypertension: Previously, this stage consisted of individuals with a systolic reading of above 160 mm Hg and a diastolic one of 80-89 mm Hg. The new definition is 140/90 mm Hg or higher.
3 Factors that Affect Blood Pressure
The National Institute on Aging suggests that males have a higher chance of becoming hypersensitive before turning 55, while women experience an increase in blood pressure after menopause. Women have lower chances of experiencing complications related to hypertension than men. However, despite the sharp differences in the occurrence and complications of hypertension between the sexes, diagnosis and treatment are similar for both men and women.
Taller individuals tend to have higher blood pressure since height offsets gravity. This higher pressure in taller people makes sure the brain, the uppermost organ, receives sufficient blood flow and oxygen. Nonetheless, pressure range guidelines do not take height into account since it produces insignificant effects.
Intensifying systolic pressure of normal blood pressure for adults of more than 50 years is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. Systolic blood pressure rises gradually over time because of stiff arteries, accumulation of plague, and greater rate of heart disease. Therefore, older individuals should be extra cautious when it comes to keeping track of their blood pressure.
Tips for Treating High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure regulation is an all-time challenge. Hypertension can advance through the years and remedies that were effective early in life may have to be changed over time. Control of blood pressure may entail steadily making lifestyle adjustments like exercise, weight loss, and probably taking prescribed medications. Just like many other ailments, you will need to work closely with your doctor to identify the treatment plan that suits you. Here are common medicines used to treat high blood pressure.
- Beta-blockers: This medication reduces the speed and force by which your heart beats. This lowers the volume of blood that every beat forces through your arteries, lowering blood pressure. It also inhibits some hormones in your body, which can trigger the rise in blood pressure.
- ACE Inhibitors: Angiotensin is a chemical found in the body that triggers tightening and narrowing of artery walls and blood vessels. ACE Inhibitors stops the body from releasing this chemical. This inhibiting effect causes relaxation of blood vessels and lowers blood pressure.
- Alpha-2 Agonist: This drug alters nerve impulses, resulting in tightening of the blood vessels. This tightening allows blood vessels to relax thereby lowering blood pressure.
- Calcium Channel Blockers: This type of medicine hinders some of the calcium from gaining access to your heart’s cardiac muscles. This blockage results in less forceful heartbeats. The medicine also helps blood vessels to relax.
Detecting hypertension during its early stages is the most effective way of preventing complications and avoiding problems. Visit your doctor’s office on a regular basis for blood pressure reading. Alternatively, buy pressure cuff and measure your pressure levels at home. Maintain a log of all your pressure measurements and carry it with you during your doctor appointment. Your doctor will analyze your readings thoroughly and detect any possible issues before the condition progresses.