If one of your resolutions for 2016 is to get your health in order and take steps to improve your overall quality of life, there are certain factors that you will want to consider. Body fat percentage, blood glucose, cholesterol and overall body weight are all important pieces of the puzzle, and so is blood pressure.
The dangers of high blood pressure
High blood pressure can cause substantial damage to your body, even resulting in death. High blood pressure is known as a “silent killer” because there are almost no symptoms, and its effects include stroke, kidney damage, loss of vision, loss of memory and heart damage up to and including heart attack and congestive heart failure.
Factors that put you at an increased risk for high blood pressure include age, heredity, male gender, obesity, smoking, high cholesterol, diabetes and a lack of exercise.
Because of the silent nature of high blood pressure, it’s important to get your blood pressure checked regularly. In order to understand whether you suffer from high blood pressure, you will need to know how to understand your readings and what they mean.
What the numbers indicate
Your blood pressure reading will be presented as x/y mm Hg, where x represents systolic blood pressure and y represents diastolic blood pressure. According to the American Heart Association, systolic blood pressure represents the pressure in the arteries when the heart contracts. Diastolic pressure, on the other hand, represents pressure in the arteries between heartbeats when the muscle is refilling with blood. The systolic blood pressure will always be higher than the diastolic pressure.
The five stages of blood pressure
According to the American Heart Association, there are five stages of blood pressure: normal, prehypertension, Stage 1 hypertension, Stage 2 hypertension and hypertensive crisis. It is important to also note that a single blood pressure reading is not an immediate indicator of high blood pressure, and that if you do test high, you should return to your doctor for a second reading after a short period of time to see if your blood pressure levels have remained consistent.
A systolic reading of 120 mm Hg or lower and a diastolic reading of 80 mm Hg or lower are considered to be normal and healthy. Systolic readings between 120 – 139 mm Hg and diastolic readings between 80 – 89 mm Hg fall under the prehypertension range, meaning that you are at a risk of high blood pressure and should consider undertaking certain preventative measures.
Stage 1 hypertension is indicated by 140 – 159 mm Hg systolic blood pressure and 90 – 99 mm Hg diastolic blood pressure, which indicates that you should consider substantial lifestyle changes up to and including stricter diet and more exercise. Stage 2 hypertension is indicated by a systolic blood pressure reading of 160 mm Hg or higher and a diastolic pressure reading of 100 mm Hg or higher, and is typically treated by lifestyle changes and some degree of medication.
Hypertensive crisis is considered a level at which you should seek immediate emergency care, and it is indicated by readings of 180 mm Hg systolic pressure and 110 mm Hg diastolic pressure. Unlike Stage 1 hypertension and Stage 2 hypertension, hypertensive crisis is accompanied by symptomatic indicators such as severe headache, shortness of breath, nosebleeds and anxiety.
Low blood pressure
While readings of 120/80 mm Hg or lower are typically considered healthy, there is such a thing as low blood pressure. According to the American Heart Association, low blood pressure is typically only a cause for concern if it is accompanied by symptoms such as nausea, fatigue, depression, dizziness, fainting, dehydration and shallow breathing.
With the ability to determine whether your blood pressure levels are healthy, you will be better able to regulate your health in the new year. If you feel as though you are at risk for high blood pressure, make an appointment with your doctor and begin taking steps necessary to bring your blood pressure down.
This article is presented by Perkins Motors in Colorado Springs, Colorado.