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High Blood Pressure – The Facts

What is blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushing against the walls of the arteries. Every time the heart beats, it pumps blood into the arteries. The pressure is determined by the force and amount of blood pumped, and the size and flexibility of the arteries.

Blood pressure measurements contain two numbers. The top number is called systolic blood pressure and measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart pumps blood (contracts). The lower number is called the diastolic pressure and measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart relaxes.


What is high blood pressure?

High blood pressure or hypertension is a blood pressure reading of 140/90 mmHg or higher.

Blood Pressure Category Systolic (mm Hg) Diastolic (mm Hg)
Normal 120 or less and 80 or less
Pre-hypertension 120-139 or 80-89
High – Stage 1 140-159 or 90-99
High – Stage 2 160 + or 100+

*American Heart Association recommended blood pressure levels.

High blood pressure usually has no symptoms, and is often referred to as the Silent Killer. The incidence of high blood pressure is more common in people over the age of 35 years, and the risk increases with age. High blood pressure increases the stress on the heart and arteries which increases the risk of:

  • Heart failure
  • Kidney failure
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Blindness

High blood pressure management

High blood pressure can be managed by a range of lifestyle modifications including:

  • Losing weight
  • Increasing physical activity
  • Reducing salt (sodium) in the diet
  • Decreasing saturated fats in the diet
  • Quitting smoking
  • Reducing or eliminating caffeine intake

A range of medications are also available to effectively treat high blood pressure. These medications include; diuretics, alpha-blockers, beta-blockers, angiotensin receptor blockers, ACE inhibitors, and calcium channel blockers. The medications reduce blood pressure in different ways, yet they all aim to reduce the pressure and stress on the arteries.

Home blood pressure monitors are recommended to monitor blood pressure readings on a regular basis to gain an accurate picture of blood pressure levels and to monitor the success of a treatment regime.

Patients can either record their readings on paper or a spreadsheet or use special software like My Blood Pressure which enables patients to print off a chart and email information to their Doctor.

Sources and Further Reading

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9 Responses to “Blood Pressure Facts Sheet”

  1. Steve says:

    Kellie wrote this article a few years back. It is a nice summary of blood pressure, so I thought I would dig it out, add a video, and republish it. Thanks!
    Steve

  2. Dave says:

    Always useful.. I spent New Years Day in Royal Perth Hospital Emergency after my BP for no reason hit 180/104 pr75. Loss of vision and severe pain down my R arm from the shoulder to the wrist.

    After scans, blood tests, ECGs you name it could not find the cause, but did the right thing and got in fast. It was certainly scary for a while.

    • Steve says:

      Hi Dave, Good to hear that all was OK! That does sound scary, and I think you did the right thing getting the hospital fast.

  3. HNW says:

    That is an interesting video. I remember watching it before but,it was good to watch it again.

    • Thanks HNW! I think it’s good to know what blood pressure really means. Sometimes at the Dr’s they can assume that patients with high blood pressure know the basics.
      I am passionate about self awareness and knowing as much as you can about your health as possible!

  4. John S says:

    Please don’t fall for the scare tactics on salt. Salt has little if any effect on BP and there is no study ever done to prove that restricting salt brings about health benefits. Actually restricting salt can CAUSE high BP in some people. If you do eat a lot of salt you get thristy and drink water. The salt then is easily excreted in the urine. People with kidney impairment of course need to watch there electrolytes and they are the only people who should be concerned about salt intake.

    That being said, like all things moderation is a prudent course to take. I highly recommend that people use sea salt instead of pure NaCl (table salt).

    http://www.junkscience.com/dec04/jsa200409.html

  5. Scot Silvey says:

    I found out that I needed low blood pressure medication. Its because I was having headaches. So I started taking my medication and I felt really great afterward. I would recommend getting your blood pressure checked to anyone who has even slight symptoms!

  6. John S says:

    The cause of most cases of high blood pressure is excessive insulin levels. Get a fasting insulin level done and if it’s over 10 then you need to change your diet to an insulin lowering diet, ie a low carb diet. Lean proteins, vegetables, berries, nuts, eggs and good fats will do it. Put another way, avoid all sugary foods, breads, rice, potatoes, starches, juices, sweets, etc. Good luck.

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About Kellie

Kellie is 37 years old and together with her brother Steve makes up the My Health Software team.

She helps on the websites and gathering news for the programs. Kellie worked in the medical industry prior to having her two children (8 and 6) and has a strong interest in self awareness and management of health conditions.


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