This World Hypertension Day – All Myths and Facts of Blood Pressure
This World Hypertension Day: “Slay the Common Myths & Literally Know Your Number!”
This World Hypertension Day: “Slay the Common Myths & Literally Know Your Number!”
You might’ve found the word “Hypertension” quite fancy but do you know it actually stands for High Blood Pressure?
Yes, you read it right! Almost every third of U.S. adults have high blood pressure and in India, it has gone beyond count — perhaps you’ve seen someone in your family too.
The threat of Hypertension had such a high frequency that many international non-profit organizations came forward to spread its awareness.
One such foundation is “World Hypertension League” – established in 1984 with having the goal to prevent and control hypertension in populations around the world.
And, to your surprise, it happened to be highly efficient in carrying its mandate. This year Google will get on it with its highly engaging doodle flashing 2019’s slogan- “Know your numbers”
Indeed all this information about the threat of hypertension has been a roller coaster ride for your brain and searching for the same will be even more depressing.
So, we’ve summarized all that you could search on “blood pressure awareness” or “Hypertension” on a single page, let’s just dig out what’s the deal with our blood pressure:
- What is blood pressure?
- How is blood pressure measured?
- What’s “good” blood pressure?
- What’s high blood pressure?
- Who needs blood pressure medication?
- Causes of blood pressure
- Five ways to lower your blood pressure
1. What is blood pressure?
As the name suggests Blood pressure is exactly the pressure in your blood vessels.
If you’re an individual with normal amount of blood, a healthy heart and healthy elastic blood vessels, you’ll observe a normal blood pressure.
Where the Low blood pressure makes you feel dizzy, right after you stand up after having seated for a long time. In most cases, it is not that alarming as it can be the outcome of dehydration or salt deficiency.
You might not get any obvious symptoms of slightly or moderately increased blood pressure despite you may feel a light headache occurring sometimes.
In the case of high blood pressure, people feel severe headaches, fatigue, and nausea. High blood pressure is the cause of an excessive amount of salt and liquid in the blood, and also of the blood vessel walls turning thicker and harder than normal.
The fact is most people don’t even know that they are suffering from high blood pressure issue. Often times it goes unnoticed until some serious symptoms occur.
Being a high-risk factor, you must check your blood pressure every few years, even if you feel you don’t have any health issues.
Checking your blood pressure every trimester is recommended to the middle-aged or the older as high blood pressure is related to age.
A significantly raised blood pressure leads to a threat of heart disease and stroke in the long term.
It’s always a good idea to be a little proactive and maintain your blood pressure with balanced lifestyle changes rather than getting taking medical treatment.
Hypertension is the medical term for this high blood pressure, a word used often on this page.
2. How is blood pressure measured?
Almost everyone knows these days the method of measuring the Blood pressure – Wrapping of an inflatable cuff around your upper arm and pumping it up.
This pumping creates a pressure on your arm and temporarily stops the blood circulation there, later this cuff pressure is measured which is equal to the pressure in your blood vessels.
Blood pressure readings consist of two numbers, for example, 120/80.
- The first reading number is the peak pressure occurs when the heart contracts and is called “systolic” pressure. This is the highest amount of pressure in your blood vessels.
- The second reading number is the lowest pressure, measured when the heart relaxes (“diastolic” pressure).
In India, you can easily get your blood pressure checked as almost every clinic keeps a blood pressure meter to read their patients.
You can buy your own blood pressure meter as there are many variants available in the market or online and also pretty affordable- this is a convenient way of maintaining your health as you can monitor the fluctuation of your blood pressure throughout the day.
3. What’s “good” blood pressure?
If you don’t have any health issues like thyroid or diabetes and is engaged in some kind of physical activity then a lower than average blood pressure shouldn’t be anything to bother.
However, ideal, healthy blood pressure is not above 120/80. This is the ideal scale for physically active, young and healthy people!
Most people in the west are suffering from this epidemic of high blood pressure. It’s a common issue in middle-aged and older people, especially in the case of obesity.
If your blood pressure comes in the range of 120-140 systolic pressure and 80-90 diastolic pressure than it is a red alarm of hypertension for you which should be addressed on time!
There may be chances that you are reading this article for someone else in your family or concern but hypertension can strike anyone in this world full of worry and stress.
Leading a healthy lifestyle is the solution to almost half of the health issues through which millions of people are struggling today!
Rural populations not eating fast foods and junks tend to have excellent blood pressure, even at old ages. It’s high time when we should learn and inspire them.
4. What’s a high blood pressure?
A reading above 140/90, measured on three different occasions, is considered raised blood pressure.
Temporarily having a slightly high blood pressure under some kind of stress (mostly in case of fever or anger) is a case to bother.
See, the flow of your blood varies in a day from time to time, so do the blood pressure, it’s ideal to only diagnose a person with high blood pressure if their reading has come higher most of the time.
If the average of either of the readings (either the systolic or diastolic) is higher than the ideal range, it will be considered a high blood pressure. That is, an average of 150/85 or 135/100 on readings on several events will be considered too high.
The intended difference between the systolic and diastolic pressures is also taken into concern. If the difference is huge (e.g. 170/85), it may be indicating towards the stiffness in arteries – often the outcome of heart disease.
This means the blood vessel is failing in dilating sufficient when the heart throws out a pulse, which causes the blood pressure to elevate.
In simple terms it means, your blood has to put more efforts when it tries to pump the blood through the arteries since the walls have stiffened and making it difficult for your heart to perform its usual function.
There is a thing called white coat hypertension—
Haven’t you got panic right after entering the environment of the hospital, especially after looking at the white coats of doctors and compounder or the pathologists?
Yes, you got us right there! In such cases because of this panic, many people find elevation in their blood pressure, obviously because of the subconscious stress from the confrontation with the medical staff and their equipment.
This elevation in blood pressure is called “white coat hypertension”, there you got something new right?
It’s a common very common problem since a full 10-15% of people diagnosed with the elevated blood pressure after their reading was taken at a hospital or lab or medical facility, which varies when taken in a cozy environment of their home or averaged after 24 hours.
It’s an interesting finding! Don’t you think so? But beware as it doesn’t mean that just because you lie under the category of people having “white coat hypertension” you are free from the risk of heart disease.
In fact, you have equal chances of having a heart disease just like other people with normal blood pressure have.
However, people with “white coat hypertension” don’t need any blood pressure mitigating medications – but they often get it anyways!
If you’ve doubts of stress-related increase in your blood pressure, then it’s ideal to borrow a blood pressure meter from your doctor or buy one, strap them around your forearm for around 24 hours to register the fluctuation at several times an hour.
5. When should you start taking medicines for hypertension?
If your blood pressure is drastically increasing say over 160 systolic or above 100 diastolic, this is the high time when your doctor will prescribe to go under some medication.
If you have other risk factors for heart disease like smoking, diabetes or obesity, medication may be recommended even for the minor increase in blood pressure which is over 140/90.
Until yet there was no such evidence that medication enhances the health of otherwise healthy people with mildly elevated blood pressure (140-159 systolic and/or 90-99 diastolic).
It’s not clear whether we should take medications along with all the side effects which consumption of these medications carries with them, especially if all you have is a slight increase in your blood pressure.
The latest study, however, found that people with hypertension lived longer and minimized the risk of heart disease if they reduced their systolic blood pressure all the way to 10, using the medications.
And, yes this boon comes with a major increase in the risk of side effects:
Diabetic patients are mostly recommended for frequent blood pressure checkups, the maximum normal value in them is seen 130/80-85.
Though it’s still questionable whether we should medicate our blood pressure levels down to those values or try to achieve it with switching to a healthy lifestyle, diabetics can stick to approximately the same upper limit similar to the people with heart disease:
140/90 (According to the latest recommendations from the American Diabetes Association, ADA).
To sum it up, here are the approximate limits for the levels of blood pressure at which medications become a necessity:
- Healthy individuals: Over 160/100
- Diabetics or people with heart disease: Over 140/90
6. Possible causes of high blood pressure
There are endless exceptional causes of an increase in the levels of blood pressure (such as kidney or adrenal disorders).
If you’re suspicious of any such disorder is the cause of your hypertension, you must consult a medical professional and should take the prescribed measures.
However, the most common type of high blood pressure doesn’t have clear symptoms in most cases, so it’s primarily known as hypertension.
In such cases it can be a symptom of “metabolic syndrome”, also known as the disease of the West:
The before mentioned health issues are grouped together since the reason of them appearing as a cluster of symptoms in one patient.
People with high blood pressure often have extra visceral fat around their belly. They come in the most probability of having high blood sugar and type 2 diabetes.
Come on! You don’t have to lose hope as all these medical conditions will vanish once you get to the root cause of them; all you need to do is to make a simple lifestyle change, that’s it!
Yes, we know you love your sugar and cola and OF COURSE you just can’t ignore that mouthwatering tempting chocolate truffle pastry. But as your doctor or diet planner banged his head in front of you many times- they are the root cause
Metabolic syndrome is the aftermath of eating more carbohydrates. There is a thing called proportion, every individual body has a different requirement of calorie (energy) to perform.
Like an athlete might need more calorie than an I.T professional. Michelle Phelps, the best swimmer of the world takes 10,000 calories in a day, but it doesn’t mean that he eats lots of junk.
You also have to take these calories or carbohydrates from right sources. So, instead of eating a burger with fries you can switch to a quinoa salad.
As soon as carbohydrate enters the stomach, it starts getting broken down into simple sugars. For example, Starch in bread and pasta becomes glucose which in turn elevates your blood sugar the instant it gets taken up by the bloodstream.
And, to take care of this blood sugar our pancreas starts to produce more hormone insulin. Insulin is the main fat-storing hormone in the body, and excess of insulin can, therefore, lead to obesity in the long run.
In large amounts, this can also influence the cholesterol metabolism in your body resulting in the spike in blood pressure.
High insulin and high blood pressure elevated insulin levels lead to the deposit of fluid and the salt in the body. This, in turn, raises blood pressure. High levels of insulin can thicken the tissue around blood vessels, which plays role in increasing blood pressure.
Going on a low carb diet has repeatedly shown better results in decreasing insulin levels and also blood pressure. Low carb diet prevents the body from accumulating fluids and increases the elimination of salt via urine.
7. Lifestyle changes for healthier blood pressure
You might’ve come across this term “lifestyle changes.”
Multiple times in this blog and might have cursed us for not telling you what kind of lifestyle changes you should make.
That’s why we’ve given a separate segment for the types of lifestyle changes you should go.
The first one is the most important one as it reduces the most common cause of high blood pressure:
1. Cure the Western disease
High blood pressure is mostly the product of so-called metabolic syndrome, especially in obese people. This means losing weight and cutting the intake of (bad) carbohydrates will definitely go beneficial for your health.
Most studies on low-carb diets have shown improved blood pressure and more improvement than any other diet. As an addition, a low-carb diet has given terrific results to the people trying to lose weight and also improved the blood sugar level.
2. To eat salt or not
You might’ve always heard about not eating excessive salt as it can elevate your blood pressure. Reducing salt intake can reduce your blood pressure, but this effect is minimal in the long run.
This doesn’t mean that you should start eating tasteless food. It’s just the medium or source from where you’re receiving the amount of salt.
Most of the salt we consume comes from the junk, ready to cook food, pre-cooked restaurant food, bread and soft drinks like cola- all the food item that you must avoid during low carb diet.
Avoid these foods and you don’t have to count your salt intake. This will lower your salt intake automatically. On top of it, the hormonal effects of LCHF will make it easier for the body to dispose of excess sodium through urine resulting in slightly lowering of blood pressure.
In summary, the demonizing of salt is exaggerated. At any rate, if you stick to a low carb diet, you should be able to enjoy salt in moderation with a clear conscience.
3. Other things which increase blood pressure
Blood pressure can be regulated simply by avoiding the things that spike it up. There you go with some common reason for high blood pressure:
- Common painkillers (so-called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, NSAID), can raise your blood pressure by the curb the production of salt in your kidneys. This includes without prescription pills such as Ipren, Ibumetin, Ibuprofen, Diklofenak and Naproxen and also the prescription drugs Celebra. Painkillers with the active substance paracetamol are better for your blood pressure.
- Cortisone pills, like Prednisolon
- Birth control pills
- Coffee (caffeine)
- Excessive Alcohol consumption
- Nicotine (smoking, other forms of tobacco) can give a temporary rise in blood pressure of 15-20 units
- Drugs such as amphetamine and cocaine
- Plenty of licorice
Now, you might get weary about the consumption of coffee or alcohol, Right?
Well, you don’t have to stop the consumption of coffee or alcohol completely; you just have to decide your portion as we told you earlier.
You only have to minimize your consumption if in case, you’re a big “user” it is ideal to decrease your consumption in a day.
And, do we have to tell you the benefit of kicking a smoking habit completely? You also know how harmful it is not only for your blood pressure but for your entire body!
Last but not the least- the birth control pills; there is the possibility of a significant rise in blood pressure with constant use of birth control pills. But your doctor can easily solve this problem with prescribing you various other alternatives.
Are you for real? Do we really need to discuss the advantages of regular exercise?
For those who didn’t get it yet, should understand that exercise is not only good for your overall body but it reduces stress, blood sugar levels, blood pressure and boosts the metabolism too.
It helps you to burn those extra carbohydrates and thus, increasing your carb resistance.
5. Avoid deficiency of omega-3 fats or vitamin D
Studies have shown that omega-3 fats may lower blood pressure somewhat (especially the systolic blood pressure value).
A study shows that administration of vitamin D supplements in deficient people. Which is a very common deficiency in the west during winters can lower the blood pressure levels by approximately 4 units systolic and 3 units diastolic.
Follow up your blood pressure
It’s one thing that only genuine health care providers will suggest you – to measure the fluctuation in your blood pressure.
It’s just like reading your own anatomy or functions of the body.
Keep a record of your blood pressure by measuring it on every occasion, especially at home. You can get multiple brands of blood pressure measuring devices online which you can buy on very affordable prices.
Experiment with your body (healthy experiments) like you should reduce the salt intake in a day. Just to check whether it influences your blood pressure levels.
You can measure your blood pressure after meditating or doing light yoga exercise just to know reducing stress has some effects on your body. See everyone’s body has a different mechanism, what works for you may not work for someone else.
It’s not all about living healthy, it’s more about living happy and a happy body leads to a happy mind and soul!
Keep this fitness mantra in your mind whenever you feel like giving up on hypertension. We know it’s quite difficult for you to beat the fluctuations in your reading.
But as we have written above – keeping the track of the changes in our own body will give you in-depth knowledge of how your body reacts to certain objects or environment.
After all it’s you who is going to get benefit from staying fit and doing things of your interest. Yes, it’s not always exercise that makes you happy. Listening to the music while going on a morning walk or evening walks, dancing with your kids or loved ones. Sometimes playing with your pet can calm both your mind and soul – Another way of treating your body!
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