Blood pressure is the pressure of the blood in the circulatory system of the body. It rises with each heart beat and falls when the heart relaxes between beats. Blood pressure can change every minute with change in exercise, posture, sleep or stress and several other reasons. For adults over the age of 20 the normal blood pressure is less than 120/80 mm Hg. It is often measured as a part of diagnosis as it is closely related to the rate and force of heartbeat and the elasticity and diameter of the arterial walls. When the body is fit the blood pressures remains normal. However, there are various reasons because of which blood pressures may either by high or low.
Causes of high and low blood pressure:
High blood pressure happens when the walls in the arteries are receiving a lot more pressure repeatedly. Some of the main causes for such pressure in the arteries include:
- Obesity or overweight
- Physical inactivity
- Alcohol intake
- High salt intake
- High fat diet
- Mental stress
- Some aspects of gender i.e. high blood pressure is more common in adult men than women
- Cold Temperature
- Family history
- Old Age
Some of the causes of low blood pressure include:
- Serious injury or internal bleeding
- Endocrine problems
- Heart disease
- Severe allergic reaction
- Diet deficiency
- Eating disorders
Signs and Symptoms
Some of the common signs and symptoms of high blood pressure include:
- Headache that is lasting for several days
- Blurred or double vision
- Epistaxis - nosebleed
- Breathlessness, shortness of breath.
- Preventive measures
Some of the symptoms of low blood pressure include:
- Blurred vision
- Cold, clammy, pale skin
- General feeling of weakness
- Rapid, shallow breathing
There are various conditions that may lead to irregularity in blood pressure. However, following certain activities in daily life can ensure normal blood pressure level:
- Aim to have a balanced meal: It is essential to fix diet after consultation with your doctor. He after taking into consideration several factors will guide you on a diet plan that you need to abide by. Include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and fluids in your diet. In case of low blood pressure salt intake and nutritional food needs to be taken. In case of high blood pressure high fat diet, spicy food should be avoided.
- Exercise: Following a daily regime of exercise goes a long way in keeping the blood level normal. However, care should be taken to do exercise under proper supervision
- Reduce stress level: Stress is one of the main causes of irregularity in blood levels. Ways and means should be adopted to reduce stress level by indulging in therapies and meditations and other techniques as advised by experts.
Myths and facts:
There are always some misconception about low blood pressure and high blood pressure. While some may be true there are others which might be completely a myth. Some common facts and myths are as follows:
Myth: Blood pressure and heart rate are always linked
Fact: It is true that heart rate and blood pressure often fall and rise together, but it is not always the case. Many a times the two does not fall or rise together. In such cases the doctor may have to look at treatment specific to either increased or decreased heart rate or high or low blood pressure. The doctor mat than suggest heart medications or medications to treat the abnormality in pressure.
Myth: There is one "normal" for heart rate and blood pressure:
Fact: There are guidelines about normal heart rate and blood pressure but it may vary from person to person and is not fixed.
Myth: Treatment does not work in case of high blood pressure
Fact: If you sit with your doctor and work out a plan that includes diet, exercise and medication and follow it religiously than it will have profound impact on your health and your blood pressure may also become normal. Regular checkups are also essential.
Diagnosis of disease
Diagnosis of high and low blood pressure can be done with the help of a device Sphygmomanometer. Sphygmomanometer consists of an inflatable cuff which is wrapped around the upper arm. During investigation the cuff is inflated which restricts in the blood flow. A mechanical manometer or mercury measures the pressure. Stethoscope is also used along with Sphygmomanometer to listen to the brachial artery at the elbow while the pressure at the cuff is being slowly released by the examiner.
Treatment for High and low blood pressure
High blood pressure treatment will be provided after taking into consideration several factors such as associated risks of developing any cardiovascular disease, severity of conditions and so on.
- In case of slightly elevated blood pressure the doctor may suggest some lifestyle change.
- If the patient is suffering from moderate high blood pressure than chance of developing cardiovascular disease is quite high in the later years. Hence he or she may be prescribed with both lifestyle change as well as blood pressure drugs.
- In case of very high blood pressure such as 180/110 mmHg or higher that the patient will require special care and will be treated under a cardiologist.
The treatment of low blood pressure may vary depending on the symptoms.
- If some elderly patients face postural hypotension, they may be prescribed with medicines.
- If blood pressured is lowered below the normal level because of medicines than a change in the dose will probably do the trick.
- Many a times fall in blood pressure is the result of some underlying illness such as a nerve condition, a thyroid disorder, a heart condition and so on. In such case the patient will be referred to a specialist to be treated further.
- In case the low blood pressure is due to adrenal gland failure then it is treated by replacing the missing hormone aldosterone.
- In case the hypotension is due to a nerve condition, the patient may be given medicine to stimulate the nervous system.
- Increase in salt and intake of lot more fluids can result in increase in blood pressure to normal levels. The doctor may also prescribe a diet chart to be followed religiously in case the low pressure is due to lack of proper diet.
Steps to improve the health
Some of the steps which can be followed to bring high blood pressure to normal levels are:
- Regular exercise
- Reducing alcohol consumption
- Eating healthy
- Lowering salt intake
- Losing weight
- Lowering caffeine consumption
- Adopting Relaxation techniques
- Quality sleep
Steps to be followed to bring low blood pressure to normal levels are:
- Drink lots of non-alcoholic fluids
- Eat a diet higher in salt
- Limit alcoholic beverages
- Drink lots of non-alcoholic fluids.
- Drink lots of water or fluid if you are sick with a viral illness or during hot weather.
- Do regular exercise so as to promote blood flow
- Tell your doctor if you are taking any other medicines which may be the cause of low blood pressure
- Be careful when rising from a sitting or lying down position
- Avoid heavy lifting
- Elevate the head of your bed by placing blocks and bricks under the head of the bed at night
- Avoid straining while on the toilet
- Try eating small but frequent meals and rest after eating. It is advisable to cut back on carbohydrate.
- If required use of compression can be made so as to cover thigh and calf. This will restrict blood flow to the legs and thus keep more blood in the upper body.
Important things to know
Blood pressure needs to be regularly monitored in case suffering from low or high blood pressure and reported to your doctor at regular intervals. It is important to take medications as well as follow lifestyle changes as per doctor’s advice so that the desired blood pressure level can be achieved. In case the symptoms still persist you must get in touch with your doctor as soon as possible