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Blood Pressure

Friday, December 20, 2013

With Christmas and New Year upon us, indulging in alcohol and some unhealthy food choices, it's best to keep a check on your blood pressure. 

Why is it Important?

Left untreated, high blood pressure (hypertension) can lead to serious and even life threatening situations. Health risks associated with high blood pressure include heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney failure, damage to brain function and impaired vision.

What is it?

Blood pressure is the pressure exerted to circulate or pump blood throughout the body. As the heart beats, blood is pumped through the arteries and circulated around the body to keep us functioning. It is vital for living and can be measured. 

Blood pressure varies depending on many factors. The most common is movement and emotional state.

As we exercise, the body needs more oxygen to work the muscles; therefore blood pressure increases to keep up. It may decrease during a restful state such as sleep.

Stress, anxiety, excitement and other emotions are associated with high blood pressure but generally in short-term spikes. However, some people experience stress, which can be associated with long-term high blood pressure.

Measuring Blood Pressure

There are 2 measurements in blood pressure e.g. 120/80, systolic and diastolic.

Systolic is the top number and measures the pressure in the arteries as each beat of the heart pumps the blood around the body.

Diastolic is the bottom number and measures the pressure as the heart relaxes before the next beat. 



What is Normal?

Below is a list of blood pressure measurements that are a general guide only and are based on readings that have minimal change over time (not due to exercise or other short-term factors)


120/80 – normal

140/90 – high blood pressure (hypertension) stage 1

160/100 – high blood pressure (hypertension) stage 2 (treatment required)

180/110 – severe high blood pressure

200/120 – emergency care required

90/60 - low blood pressure (normal for children and athletes) 

80/50 – low blood pressure (may feel weak and tired)

70/40 – low blood pressure (cause for concern) dizzy, fainting

60/40 – low blood pressure (danger, require medical attention)


Symptoms of High Blood Pressure

Many people do not show any signs or symptoms of high blood pressure.Sometimes, only when blood pressure reaches ‘hypertensive crisis’ 180/110 or higher, headaches, anxiety, shortness of breath, nosebleeds and/or a feeling of unwell are experienced or noted.

The best way to know if you have high blood pressure is to check regularly. A home blood pressure kit is valuable to monitor yourself and regular checks at the doctors.


Causes of High Blood Pressure

Lifestyle is the main contributor of high blood pressure.


Factors that add to the risk of high blood pressure are

smoking

obesity and overweight

diet (high salt and fat)

alcohol

low or no level of exercise

family history

having diabetes

having high cholesterol 

Treatment of High Blood Pressure

Generally a change in lifestyle helps. Getting regular exercise and eating a balanced, healthy diet and reducing stress can help to manage blood pressure. 

Beta-blockers and other medicines can be prescribed by a GP to lower blood pressure.

And in some situations, surgery. 



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