How is blood pressure measured?
Your healthcare provider will usually measure your blood pressure using an automatic machine.
Other ways you can measure your blood pressure:
- You can also have additional readings done by a public blood pressure monitor (example: in a pharmacy) or a portable blood pressure monitor at home.
- In some cases, your healthcare provider may ask you to wear a
monitoring device for 24 hours.
Most commonly, measurement involves placing a “blood pressure cuff” on your arm.
The cuff is wrapped snuggly around your arm and is inflated with air. Pressure
readings are then taken as the air is slowly released.
What is high blood pressure?
Everyone experiences increases in their blood pressure at times but usually only for short periods, such as during physical activity or in stressful situations.
High blood pressure becomes a problem when blood pressure stays higher than normal over a period of time. We call this hypertension (‘hyper’ meaning ‘too much’, and ‘tension’ refers to the pressure in the arteries).
A single high blood pressure reading does not mean you have high blood pressure. Your doctor will confirm a diagnosis of high blood pressure when either the top number (systolic) or the bottom number (diastolic) stays high over a period of time.
It is important to have your blood pressure checked regularly. When you identify high blood pressure early, you have a better chance of getting it under control.
If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, your doctor will talk to you about a target blood pressure and the best way to manage it based on your medical history and your risk factors.
Blood pressure is considered high when it is:
- 135+/85+ measured at home or 140+/90+ measured by a health practitioner
For people with diabetes, 130/80 is considered high
When and Why should you worry about high blood pressure?
High blood pressure puts too much pressure on the walls of your arteries. This can damage your arteries, as well as cause other health problems. Artery damage reduces blood flow throughout the whole body.
We know high blood pressure can lead to stroke, heart failure, heart attack, kidney disease, and even kidney failure. It has also been linked to dementia.
Whether or not arteries are damaged and how much they are damaged depends on:
- How high the top or bottom number is and How long the blood pressure remains high.
How can you tell if you have high blood pressure?
You can’t feel it. There are no warning signs. Because of this, it is often called a ‘silent killer’.
The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to check your blood pressure. While you can check your blood pressure at home or at a pharmacy, it is important to also have it checked regularly by a Qualified healthcare provider.
Many people have a higher than normal blood pressure just by being in the doctor’s office. This is called “white coat effect”.
A higher reading than is actually the case may be the result of some anxiety about being in the Doctor’s office. Anxiety can also be caused because you could not find a parking spot and worried about being late for your appointment.
Avoid smoking and/or drinking coffee or other caffeine beverages prior to taking your blood pressure reading.
Sit quietly, relax and breathe calmly. Place your feet flat on the floor and monitor your body for tension. Try to relax any tension prior to taking your blood pressure reading.
Here are some things you can do that will help to lower your blood pressure:
- Reduce your salt intake. There is so much hidden sodium in the foods we eat, you may never need to add salt to your food.
- Cut down on pre-packaged and commercially processed foods. About 80% of the salt we consume comes from processed foods, including fast foods, prepared meals, processed meats such as hot dogs and lunch meats, TV Dinners, canned soups (read the labels), bottled dressings, packaged sauces, condiments such as ketchup, pickles, and salty snack foods like potato chips.
- Look for products with claims such as low sodium, sodium reduced or “no salt added.”
- Eat more fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables
- Reduce the amount of salt you add while cooking, baking or at the table
- Experiment with other seasonings such as garlic, lemon juice and fresh or dried herbs
- When eating out, don’t hesitate to ask for the nutritional information for the menu items and choose meals lower in sodium. Ask your server to ask the Chef, if possible, please don’t add salt to my entrée.
Its time to TAKE ACTION and get more physically active:
Being physically active is good for your heart and brain. Getting 150 minutes (about a 25-minute workout, 6 days a week) of moderate to vigorous intensity, (depending on your physical condition) will reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes, by about 30% or more.
Being physically active will greatly help your heart, brain, muscles, back, bones and overall mood and sense of well-being.
People who are NOT active, have an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, as well as the increased risk of diabetes, cancer and dementia.
If you have a condition that makes regular exercise options too difficult or stressful, you need to get creative.
WALKING at a moderate pace is an excellent option for those who do not want to run or jog.
You can also toss a ball with the kids, rake a few leaves, pull a few weeds, walk up a few stairs, park the car a little bit further from the entrance to the Mall and add a couple of minutes to your walk when you go shopping.
The biggest decision you’ll make is to take DAILY ACTION and change your life for the better. As the saying goes, decide today to “JUST DO IT”.
Here’s how to beat the Usual Suspects:
If you seriously want your health and heart function to improve, facing reality is imperative.
Number One: Decide to Change your diet to more fresh, unprocessed healthy choices, stop smoking, cut down or eliminate alcoholic beverages and do not use any of the recreational drugs.
Here’s the Truth and the Facts:
The continued use of these products will absolutely increase your risk for stroke and all the other heart problems/diseases. It’s your choice – so make the call that’s going to help you live longer and healthier.
Stress Management is one of the most important things you need to do.
If you need help, seek out a good counselor or Doctor, to help you manage and deal with your stress. If at all possible, try to avoid the use of anti-depressants.
Sometimes we become our own authors of our stress levels, by the decisions we make. What people do you allow into your life? Get rid of the Toxic ones. Some are harder to do than others, including getting your finances under control. Do we choose to watch TV or YouTube selectively or do we allow violence, shouting and arguing to spill over and intrude into our psyche every day? Unfortunately, that’s what’s mostly available for us to watch – maybe it’s time to read a great book instead.
Bottom line: Get better at managing your day. Set your alarm, get up early, give yourself time to get ready to go and you won’t miss the bus or let the traffic jump-start your stress.
How to Recognize Signs of a Heart Attack
The symptoms of a heart attack can sometimes resemble indigestion, heartburn, and a stomachache can occur, as well as a heavy feeling in the chest.
Other Symptoms of a heart attack can include:
- Pain that travels through the body, for example, from the chest to the arms, neck, back, abdomen or jaw.
- Lightheadedness and dizzy sensations
- Profuse Sweating
- Nausea and Vomiting
Heart failure is also an outcome of heart disease and breathlessness can occur when the heart becomes too weak to circulate blood.
Some heart conditions occur with no symptoms at all, especially in older adults and individuals with diabetes.
If you experience any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical assistance.
Let’s Summarize the Basics:
The key to healthy eating is to choose foods in their natural form.
Eat Vegetables and Fruits in their raw state as much as you can.
Using raw foods in your “smoothies” is an excellent way to consume foods raw.
One or two servings of red cabbage, kale, broccoli, cucumber, carrots and brussel sprouts are great vegetable choices for a “smoothie.”
One or Two delicious and naturally sweet fruits can add nutrition and flavor.
Apples, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, lemon or limes (don’t peel them) are all great choices. Just add ½ or ¾ cups of water and let your food blender hum. For best results, do not overfill the blender.
Protein sources such as canned beans and lentils are pre-cooked and added into the “smoothie” for texture – you’ll be amazed at how these “smoothies” will make you feel healthy and full.
These blended “smoothies” can reduce your cholesterol and help to manage atrial fibrillation (an irregular heart rhythm).
Finally, here are some of the factors that, if left untreated, can cause strokes and disease.
The term “cardiovascular disease” describes problems with the blood vessels and circulatory system as well as the heart.
The term “heart disease” refers to issues and deformities in the heart itself.
“Congenital Heart Disease” is the general term for deformities of the heart that have been present since birth.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death in most of the Western and European countries of the world.
Two other conditions you must deal with that are primary causes of Heart problems and disease are “Stress” and “Weak Immune Systems.”
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