Blood pressure

What Is Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is defined as pressure that is exerted by the blood on blood vessels and arteries. Blood pressure varies amongst people for a variety of different reasons including the efficiency of the heart, blood volume, the age and health of the individual, and the condition of the vascular wall.

Blood pressure can be considered the strength of the blood pushing against the blood vessels. When a person has high blood pressure, there is an extra strain put on the arteries, which can lead to stroke, heart attack, and other cardiovascular problems.

What Do Blood Pressure Numbers Mean?

Blood pressure measurements are taken in numbers and are shown with one number on top of the other. The first (or top) number is known as systolic pressure, which is the highest level a person’s blood pressure reaches when their heart beats. The second (or bottom) number is known as diastolic blood pressure and is what blood pressure reaches when the heart relaxes between beats.

What Is High Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure is also known as hypertension. It is not something a person is typically aware of, until they have their blood pressure measured by a medical professional. When a person has high blood pressure it indicates the arteries are repeatedly receiving too much pressure.

There are millions of people that suffer from high blood pressure worldwide. When left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to several different medical problems including vision loss, kidney failure, heart failure, and stroke.

What Causes High Blood Pressure?

While there isn’t a single identifiable cause that leads to high blood pressure, it is believed to be causes by several different factors. These include:

  • Age: The older a person is, the more likely they are to have high blood pressure.
  • Obesity and being overweight: People that are overweight and/or obese are more likely to experience high blood pressure.
  • Diabetes: People both type 1 and type 2 diabetes that suffer from high blood sugar levels are at risk for developing high blood pressure.
  • Regular alcohol abuse: It has been shown that people who regularly drink alcohol have higher blood pressure than those who do not drink. Systolic blood pressure levels are approximately 7 numbers higher in drinkers than non-drinkers.
  • Smoking: Smoking cigarettes leads to narrowing of the blood vessels, which eventually causes higher blood pressure. The blood must pump faster to compensate for the lack of oxygen caused by smoking, which can also result in blood pressure to rise.
  • Diet: A diet high in saturated fats and processed foods leads to a greater risk of developing high blood pressure.
  • Stress: Long-term exposure to mental stress has shown to lead to a significant rise in blood pressure.
  • Pregnancy: 2-3 percent of all pregnant women will experience an increase in blood pressure levels.

Treatment for High Blood Pressure

The treatment a person receives for high blood pressure is dependent on its severity and other various factors. Typical treatment for high blood pressure is as follows:

Low levels of high blood pressure: Typical treatment includes making lifestyle changes. A person may be advised to change their diet, stop smoking and drinking, and get more regular exercise.

Medium levels of high blood pressure: When a person is suffering from moderately high blood pressure, they might be prescribed medication, as well as advised to make lifestyle changes.

Severely high blood pressure levels: When an individual experiences severely high blood pressure levels, they will typically be recommended to a cardiologist.

Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle changes are often recommended by most medical professionals for patients who have high blood pressure. Typical lifestyle changes will include: getting regular exercise (3-4 days a week), losing weight, dietary changes, lowered alcohol consumption, stopping smoking, lessening caffeine intake, engaging in various relaxation techniques, and getting regular, adequate sleep.

External Links

High blood pressure: Causes, symptoms, and treatments, Christian Nordqvist, Medical News Today, February 2017

What is blood pressure?, Blood Pressure UK

High blood pressure (hypertension), Mayo Clinic

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