Blood Pressure is the pressure applied on the walls of arteries by bloodflow. In the human body, we have arteries that carry blood from our heart to other parts of our body, veins that carry blood from different parts of our body back into the heart, and capillaries that allow for nutrient exchange within the body. When this pressure becomes too high, it is called hypertension. Your blood pressure normally rises and falls throughout the day depending on what you do.
- Nature review epidemiology article estimate suggests that 31.1% of adults (1.39 billion) worldwide had hypertension in 2010. The prevalence of hypertension among adults was higher in Low-Income Countries (31.5%, 1.04 billion people) than in high-income countries (28.5%, 349 million people).
Blood pressure is measured using two numbers which include:
- Systolic blood pressure: It is the number on top. It measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats. A number that is higher than 120 means you have high blood pressure.
- Diastolic blood pressure: It is the number below. It measures the pressure in your artery when your heart relaxes and rests between beats. The normal diastolic blood pressure is less than 80. A number that is higher than 90 means you have high blood pressure.
A normal blood pressure level is less than or equal to 120/80 mmHg. Blood pressure is high when it is 140/90mmHg or higher (or 150/90mmHg or higher in people older than 80 years).
- Normal systolic BP: less than 120 mm Hg and normal diastolic BP: less than 80 mm Hg
- Prehypertension- systolic BP: 120–139 mmHg and diastolic BP: 80–89 mmHg
- Hypertension: systolic BP: 140 mm Hg or higher and diastolic BP: 90 mm Hg or higher
Some Symptoms of High Blood Pressure
Hypertension most often does not have signs, symptoms or warnings, and most people might not even know they have high blood pressure until their blood pressure is checked. In the case of a severe rise in blood pressure, you may notice a few symptoms which might include:
- Blood in the urine
- Severe headaches
- Trouble breathing
- Poor vision
- Chest pain
- Irregular heartbeat
- Difficulty sleeping
- Pounding in your chest, neck, or ears
- Blood spots in eyes
Speak with your doctor if you are experiencing these symptoms for proper evaluation.
Some risk factors for hypertension include
- High sodium/salt intake, low potassium intake,
- An unhealthy diet high in saturated and trans fats
- Smoking and Alcohol use
- Decreased physical activity
High blood pressure increases your risk of having other health complications such as:
- Heart disease (example an irregular heartbeat which can lead to sudden cardiac death).
- Multi-organ failure,
- Chronic Kidney Disease.
- Stroke: High blood pressure can cause blockage or rupture of arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the brain. Brain cells can damage due to a decrease in oxygen and nutrient delivery to the brain.
Some classes of medications used to control blood pressure include:
- ACE inhibitors
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers
- Alpha-2 Receptor Agonists
- Calcium channel blockers
- Alpha-1 blockers
- Combined alpha and beta-blockers
- Peripheral adrenergic inhibitors
See your doctor for a prescription.
How to prevent/ manage high blood pressure
Lifestyle changes are one the best and most effective ways to manage, lower and control blood pressure.
- Avoid/ quit smoking
- Limit alcohol intake
- Reduce salt intake (to less than 5g daily)
- Engage in physical activities (eg. running, walking, swimming, etc.) for about 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.
- Learn how to manage stress and relax.
- Decrease intake of foods with saturated fats.
- Eat fruits and vegetables
- Make the necessary lifestyle changes
- Reducing and managing stress
- Check your blood pressure regularly
- Take your blood pressure medication
- Relaxation techniques such as meditation, warm baths, yoga, and taking a walk can help relieve stress thereby keeping your blood pressure in check.
- Avoid alcohol, drugs and cigarette smoking.
- Book an appointment with your doctor: When you make an appointment with your doctor, you and your health care team can work together to prevent or treat the medical conditions that lead to high blood pressure. Discuss your treatment plan regularly and bring a list of questions to your appointments.
DISCLAIMER: The content of this blog post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical care, diagnosis, or treatment. it is intended for informational purposes only. Ensure you seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or in the case of a medical emergency.