HEALTH

What is Blood Pressure and How to Maintain It

Simply put, blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against your arteries, most notably, the walls of your heart. An adult's typical blood pressure is between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg.1

Your blood pressure should be measured several different times and always at rest for the most accurate results, as it's typical for it to fluctuate during the day. It may temporarily change due to factors such as physical activities, stress, and temperature. To get reliable readings, try sitting down and relaxing (maybe even doing a couple of breathing exercises), and wait about three minutes before measuring so that your circulatory system is at rest.

Did you know? If doctor appointments make you nervous, your blood pressure reading could spike during your visit, creating misleading results.

When you get blood pressure results, you'll notice two numbers separated by a line. The top number is your systolic blood pressure, and the bottom number represents your diastolic pressure. Systolic blood pressure is the pressure on your arteries as your heart contracts (the force that pushes the blood forward). Diastolic pressure is the pressure in your arteries between beats as your heart relaxes. This number is always lower than your systolic pressure.

To put it more clearly, it would mean if someone has a 122/85 mmHg test result, they have a systolic pressure of 122 and a diastolic pressure of 85.

If your blood pressure is higher than standard blood pressure, you have a medical condition called hypertension. If it's lower, you have hypotension.

Usually, blood pressure increases as people get older. Such changes are owed to structural shifts in the arteries, especially broad artery stiffness. Numerous researches have shown that high blood pressure is linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Isolated systolic hypertension, defined as an increase in systolic pressure but not diastolic pressure, is the most common form of hypertension in people over the age of 50.3

So what is Hypertension?

High blood pressure is when either of the two numbers remains high over time, meaning your heart is working too hard to pump blood to the rest of your body. Typically, this would be a pressure of or above 140 for the systolic and 90 for the diastolic pressure. Various factors can cause high blood pressure, but for the vast majority of patients, there is no known cause. Still, it affects 25–43 % of the world's population over the age of 18, making it the highest potentially modifiable risk factor for death from heart disease. These patients are classified as having main or critical hypertension, which is uncontrolled in 8–12 % of patients despite better treatment interventions.4

There are usually no clinical signs, and that's why it is so risky- It's often called the silent killer.1

Blood Pressure and your Health

The importance of maintaining a long-term, healthy lifestyle is becoming more widely recognized. As a result of this increased understanding, the knowledge behind why we make our decisions are changing. High blood pressure is continually being studied and linked to damage leading to kidney diseases, strokes, and cardiovascular disease, making the prevention of hypertension extremely important.2

Methods to Maintain Normal Blood Pressure

Factors that help maintain a normal blood pressure include2:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Getting proper sleep
  • Consuming little to no alcohol
  • Eating a heart-healthy diet; fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, legumes, and nuts, while reducing cholesterol, refined sugar, and sodium intake.

References

1. Association, American Heart. "What Is High Blood Pressure?" South Carolina State Documents Depository (2017). Print.

2. Carey, Robert M, et al. "Prevention and Control of Hypertension: Jacc Health Promotion Series." Journal of the American College of Cardiology 72.11 (2018): 1278-93. Print. Morbidity and Mortality: The Standardized Hypertension Treatment and Prevention Project." The Journal of Clinical Hypertension 18.12 (2016): 1284-94. Print.

3. Pinto, Elisabete. "Blood Pressure and Ageing." Postgraduate medical journal 83.976 (2007): 109-14. Print.

4.Rodriguez-Iturbe, Bernardo, Hector Pons, and Richard J Johnson. "Role of the Immune System in Hypertension." Physiological reviews 97.3 (2017): 1127-64. Print.

5.Tholl, Ulrich, Klaus Forstner, and Manfred Anlauf. "Measuring Blood Pressure: Pitfalls and Recommendations." Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation 19.4 (2004): 766-70. Print.

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