Research has shown that people of African descent are more likely to have high blood pressure and are at greater risk of heart disease and stroke than the general population, due to diet and life style. According to a survey in Canada, high blood pressure affects one in five Canadians. It is the number one risk factor for strokes and heart disease; yet 42 % of Canadians with high blood pressure don’t even know they have it because there are no symptoms and they don’t have regular health checks. Canadian guidelines recommend yearly blood pressure check; however your blood pressure should be checked every six months.
Awareness, treatment and control of high blood pressure has increased significantly in England yet about 65 million Americans over the age of 20 have high blood pressure; that is one in three adults. Studies highlight that controlling blood pressure is one of the most cost effective ways to reduce heart attacks, strokes and early death.
What is Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is when blood is carried from the heart to all parts of your body in vessels called arteries. The pressure is the force of the blood pushing against the wall of the arteries. For example, each heart beats about 60-70 times a minute at rest, it then pumps out blood into the arteries. The blood pressure is at its highest when the heart is pumping the blood into the arteries. This is called systolic or ‘peak’ pressure. When the heart is at rest, between beats, your blood pressure falls, this is called diastolic pressure. Blood pressure reading is done by using two numbers, for example 130/80.
Symptoms of Blood pressure
High blood pressure is the top silent killer worldwide, and so is low blood pressure. Always keep a check on your blood pressure regularly at least every six months. You may be at risk if you suffer from?
• Blurred vision
• Shortness of breath
• Blood in urine
• Chest pain
• Feeling unwell
If you experience any of these symptoms, it would be a good idea to go for a health check with your doctor or nurse.
How to Measure Blood Pressure
A blood pressure machine is called a Sphygmomanometer or you can buy a blood pressure monitor at the chemist. Before you have your blood pressure taken; you should be rested for at least five minutes and be sitting down.
If your blood pressure is high it will be taken over three weeks before you are referred to the doctor for medication. Once your blood pressure is well controlled, it should then be measured every three to six months.
The types of blood pressure are:
Low Blood Pressure (90/60 and lower):
Most people with low blood pressure don’t have noticeable symptoms. However in some people with blood pressure at 90/60 and below can suffer from dizziness or event faint . This happens because there is not sufficient flow of blood to deliver enough oxygen and nutrients to vitals organs such as the brain, heart and kidney.
Some people with low blood pressure are encouraged to add salt to their diet as this improves their blood pressure. This is a catch 22 situation, because you must remember, too much salt in your diet can cause high blood pressure. Low blood pressure can also be one of the side effects of the medication you are taking for high blood pressure, heart disease or depression.
Normal Blood pressure (120/80 and lower):
Blood pressure changes during the day. It is lowest as you sleep and rises when you are up. It also can rise when you are excited, nervous or active.
Pre-Hypertension Blood Pressure (139/89 and higher):
This blood pressure will be considered high for a person with diabetes or kidney disease.
High Blood Pressure (140/90 and higher):
If one or both numbers are usually high, you have high blood pressure.
There are two levels of high blood pressure, Stage 1 and stage 2:
Stage 1 is : 140 – 159 / 90-99
Stage 2 is : 160 or higher /100 or higher.
What causes High Blood Pressure?
In some people, high blood pressure is the result of another medical problem or medication. When the cause is known, it is called secondary high blood pressure. In many people with high blood pressure where a single specific cause is not known, this is called essential or primary high blood pressure.
Controlling High Blood Pressure
Living with high blood pressure is not difficult if you do the right thing at the right time. It is all about self-management, here are some tips for you:
• Maintain a healthy weight
• Exercise daily
• Follow a healthy eating plan
• Use less salt
• Avoid stress
• Drink alcohol in moderation
• Use low fat dairy foods
• Eat lots of fruits and vegetables
• Quit smoking
• Drink lots of water
• Sleep well
• Take prescribed medication
Problems that causes high blood pressure in women
These conditions cause high blood pressure in women and they have to be monitored closely especially in pregnant women.
• Oral contraceptives
• Hormone replacement therapy
The changes of lifestyle, balance diet plan, and the tablets you take will make you feel well. Once your blood pressure is controlled and you have regular health checks, you should be able to lead a normal life. Remember health is wealth and consult a physician as needed.