Things You Should Know About Blood Pressure and Hypertension

Blood pressure is the pressure exerted by the blood circulating and pressing against the inner walls of the body’s blood vessels and arteries. Typically, two measures of blood pressure are performed: systolic and diastolic, as measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).

Blood Pressure and Hypertension

Blood pressure is a sure-fire indicator of current health status, especially when it is high. This is why emergency room and emergency medical technicians have the inflatable cuff, what is referred to as a blood pressure gauge or sphygmomanometer, at the ready.

Systolic blood pressure reflects the point where the heart beats and is pumping blood. Diastolic blood pressure measures when the heart is at rest, in-between beats when the heart fills with blood. Blood pressure is represented as a ratio of systolic over diastolic. If systolic blood pressure is 120 mm Hg and diastolic 80, the blood pressure would be 120/80 mm Hg, which is spoken as “120 over 80.”

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Blood pressure changes through the course of the day and night. When at sleep, the pressure tends to decline and when excited, nervous or anxious it increases. When pushing out adrenaline, perhaps when engaged in physical competition, blood pressure normally rises. It returns to normal after the fact. Likewise, as we age and grow, from a child into an adult, blood pressure also rises.

High blood pressure (HBP) is indicated when at least one of the 2 measures, systolic or diastolic, is high and above the normal range. In addition, high blood pressure exceeds 140/90, and there are 2 stages of high blood pressure, which measure levels of severity. Blood pressure above 120/80 is considered abnormal. Normally at least 3 measures of BP are taken to identify and determine HBP.

High blood pressure stages:

  • Prehypertension – systolic range is 120 to 139 / diastolic range is 80 to 89 (mm Hg)
  • Stage 1 – systolic range is 140 to 159 / diastolic range is 90 to 99 (mm Hg)
  • Stage 2 – systolic is 160 or over / diastolic is 100 or over (mm Hg)

There are two categories of hypertension or high blood pressure, essential and secondary. Essential is the most common and occurs in people over the age of 20. Obesity, family history, and lifestyle are known contributing factors. Secondary hypertension usually occurs due to other medical conditions, co-morbids.

Normal blood pressure is defined as below 120/80 mm Hg. Low blood pressure is not predefined at any one particular measurement. Instead, chronic low blood pressure combined with dangerous symptoms are an indication that something is wrong. Lightheadedness, nausea, dehydration, fainting, blurred vision and shallow breathing along with palpitations are some of the warning signs that there are health troubles at hand. In fact, dehydration can cause blood pressure to fall. Without symptoms, low blood pressure is not something to be concerned about and may, more likely, be normal. Source: American Heart Association.

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