What’s in THE number?
What is BLOOD PRESSURE? What exactly are the numbers given to me after being tested? Why is this so important? More importantly, do you know your numbers?
Blood pressure is the force applied by the circulating blood against the blood vessels. Various factors play a role in increasing and decreasing this pressure. High blood pressure is termed as “the silent killer” so I felt it was extremely important to relay this message, as higher numbers are associated with an increased risk of morbidity.
Once your blood pressure is taken, you are given a “top” and “bottom” number. The top number is your systolic blood pressure. This is the pressure within the blood vessels when your heart is contracting. The bottom number is your diastolic blood pressure. This is the pressure within the blood vessels when your heart relaxes. Both of the numbers are given in millimeters of mercury, which is how the pressure is measured.
Why are these numbers important? In order for blood to circulate and flow to the working muscles, we need to have an appropriate amount of pressure. 120/80 is considered normal, while 140/90 and above is considered hypertensive. If your reading shows only ONE number as hypertensive and one within the normal range, you are still considered hypertensive.
What factors raise blood pressure? An acute response to exercise is an increase in systolic blood pressure. This is due to the working muscles in need of oxygen-rich blood. While working out, refrain from the valsalva maneuver. This is forceful exhalations against a closed airway – nose and mouth. Also during exercise, diastolic blood pressure should not increase! If DBP increases, the heart is not relaxing and exercise should be terminated.
An individual’s lifestyle of being sedentary and obese can increase blood pressure as well. Everyone should be active on a daily basis and eat a clean and low-sodium diet (unless otherwise prescribed by a doctor). Water follows salt, so if a significant amount of salt is consumed, water is retained, increasing the volume of blood and therefore, increases blood pressure.
Genetics does play a part in high blood pressure, as this is idiopathic.
Hypertension can also be due to secondary issues, such as poor responses to sodium and fluid intake and endocrine issues, usually due to an abnormality of the adrenal glands.
Untreated hypertension can lead to atherosclerosis, the build-up of plaque along the walls of the blood vessels due to repeated injury. This can also be due to the intake of trans fats and saturated fats that lead to high blood cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia), diabetes, and smoking. This is a vicious cycle that needs to be stopped dead in its tracks! Furthermore, high blood pressure can lead to stroke and end-stage renal disease (kidney failure).
Moral of THIS story:
Eat a healthy, clean, and balanced diet, exercise regularly, and get your blood pressure checked regularly, as well, as there may be NO SIGNS OR SYMPTOMS.
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