Blood pressure is quite literally the pressure of blood flowing against the walls of your blood vessels. This pressure is a result of the heart pumping blood through the main arteries. When you have too much or too little pressure, health conditions can arise and you could be at risk.
In this article, we’ll explore what blood pressure is, the difference between high and low blood pressure, and how you can better control your blood pressure.
High vs. Low Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension or HBP, poses a serious risk to your health if undetected. Without proper treatment and lifestyle changes, any person with high blood pressure is at risk for heart attack, stroke, heart failure, peripheral artery disease, kidney disease or failure, angina, and vision loss.
High blood pressure is commonly known as the “silent killer” because it may show no symptoms and oftentimes goes undetected. While the symptoms of HBP may not be distinct, there are symptoms you could experience if your blood pressure is too high – headaches, nose bleeds, fatigue, blurry vision, chest pain, fast heartbeat, or difficulty breathing. If you find yourself experiencing one or more of these symptoms, you may want to check your blood pressure levels.
When reading your blood pressure, there is the normal blood pressure range (that dictates healthy blood pressure) and an above normal range (that dictates high blood pressure). Did you know that there are different high blood pressure ranges? Each blood pressure range poses an increased risk for developing hypertension and experiencing its adverse effects.
When measuring your blood pressure levels, there are two important numbers to understand. There is the systolic (upper) number and the diastolic (lower) number. If the systolic number is lower than 120 and the diastolic number lower than 80, you are considered to have normal blood pressure. If the systolic number is between 120 and 129 but the diastolic number is still lower than 80, then your blood pressure is considered elevated, but there is no indication of hypertension yet. Hypertension is detected and risk is determined when your systolic number is higher than 130 and your diastolic number is higher than 80.
Low blood pressure, also known as hypotension, is when there is not enough force to properly get the blood flowing in your body. While low blood pressure doesn’t pose as many long term health risks, it is just as serious a condition as it can cause dizziness, weakness, fainting, nausea and fatigue.
What factors cause changes in blood pressure?
Changes in your blood pressure are generally caused by lifestyle and dietary factors. High stress situations, not exercising enough, eating an unhealthy diet and drinking alcohol excessively are just a few of the main factors contributing to high blood pressure. Your risk for developing hypertension is also influenced by your age, family history, weight, and other outlying health conditions. If you experience low blood pressure, it is generally as a result of pregnancy, dehydration, prolonged bed rest, or current heart conditions.
Maintaining a healthy blood pressure level is possible with a few lifestyle changes: maintaining a healthy body weight; reducing sodium intake; integrating a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products; exercising regularly; and not drinking alcohol excessively.
Every time you visit the doctor, hospital or other medical facility, your blood pressure is always checked. With symptoms not always present for HBP, it’s more important than ever to visit your primary care physician regularly. If you continue to experience signs and symptoms of high or low blood pressure, seek medical attention immediately.