When you have your blood pressure recorded they are measuring the systolic pressure and the diastolic pressure in your blood vessels. We do this using a blood pressure monitor and these are widely available and relatively cheap at some chemists if you wish to monitor your own levels. Your blood pressure, also known as an abbreviation- BP is usually taken by placing a cuff around your upper arm.
There are two numbers that make up your BP recording and this will indicate if there are any issues that may need attention. The systolic pressure (S) is the top number and the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body. The diastolic pressure (D) is the lower number and records the resistance of the blood flow in the blood vessels. When we record your BP on paper or the computer, we record it as S/D. For example, if you are healthy your measurements could be 120/75. Both measurements are in millimetres of mercury mmHg. Blood pressure is the pressure of blood in your arteries – the vessels that carry your blood from your heart to your brain and the rest of your body. You need a certain amount of pressure to get the blood moving round your body.
Blood pressure readings are different in everybody and it can fluctuate depending if you exercise or have health conditions. Your blood pressure naturally goes up and down throughout the day and night, and it’s normal for it to go up while you’re moving. When your overall blood pressure is consistently high, especially when you are resting, you need to do something about it.
Generally, high blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher whereas a recommended blood pressure is usually considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg.
If your blood pressure is too high it puts extra strain on your blood vessels, heart and other organs. Persistent high blood pressure can increase your risk of serious and potentially life-threatening health conditions, such as:
- heart disease;
- heart attacks;
- heart failure;
- peripheral arterial disease;
- aortic aneurysms;
- kidney disease;
- vascular dementia.
These health issues can affect all your organs in your body but also include your eyes. Opticians can see if there are pressure changes in the vessels in your eyes. Any reduction in your readings will help lower the risks to your organs. There have been many different studies to find what causes high blood pressure and we know there are things that can increase risks to your vessels.
- Being overweight;
- Too much salt in your diet;
- Not eat enough fibre from fruit and vegetables;
- Lack of exercise;
- Too much alcohol;
- Too much coffee or other caffeine-based drinks;
- Lack of good quality sleep;
- Being aged 65 years and over (your vessels become hardened and have less elasticity);
- From black African or black Caribbean descent;
- Live in a deprived area.
As you can see above, to improve your BP levels you need to make lifestyle changes. G.P’s can give you medication after monitoring you for a while but together you can reduce this by altering what you eat, drink, reduce your weight, stop smoking and take more exercise.
High blood pressure rarely has noticeable symptoms. The following can be symptoms of high blood pressure:
- Blurred vision;
- Shortness of breath;
- Chest pain;
Sadly, there are more than 1 in 4 adults in the UK with high blood pressure and many will not know they have it. They say around five million people have a high BP without knowing. High blood pressure is known as HYPERTENSION whereas low blood pressure is called HYPOTENSION.
It is really important to eat healthy foods and especially foods which are classed as fibre. Lowering your fat intake is important too, although there are many research projects that prove both eat fat and don’t eat fat in your diet. The most common issue causing hypertension is the fats, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances deposited inside arteries and this is called atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis causes loss of arterial elasticity due to vessel thickening and stiffening. Atherosclerosis is not completely understood but evidence shows the condition can begin in childhood with the formation of tiny “fatty streaks,” or streaks of fat deposition, in the arteries in some people.
Other materials are also deposited in the lining, including calcium and other minerals. This causes the vessel to enlarge and thicken to form atheroma or plaques. These plaques may narrow the vessel channel, interfering with the flow of blood. Thick plaques can occlude an artery and can significantly decrease the flow of blood.
Low Blood Pressure (hypotension):
Low blood pressure is when your blood pressure is below 90/60mmHg. It is said some people with low blood pressure tend to live longer than those with high blood pressure. Below I have listed some symptoms that someone with low BP may have:
- lightheadedness or dizziness,
- Feeling sick;
- Blurred vision;
- Feeling weak;
- Cold & clammy skin;
Low blood pressure has a range of causes:
- When you quickly change your position;
- Eating a big meal;
- Endocrine disorders;
- Extreme allergic reaction;
- Extreme blood loss;
- Heart attack or heart disease;
- Low blood sugar;
- Severe infection;
- Thyroid conditions;
- Vigorous exercise;
- Some neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s.
Eating certain types of food can help you raise your blood pressure. By taking in more fluid you can prevent dehydration and especially if you are exercising. Foods high in vitamin B-12 can prevent anaemia and can be found in eggs, fortified cereals, animal meats and nutritional yeast. Foods high in folate also prevent anaemia and can be found in asparagus, beans, lentils, citrus fruits, leafy greens, eggs, and liver. Salty foods can increase blood pressure. Coffee and caffeinated drinks may temporarily spike blood pressure by stimulating the cardiovascular system and boosting your heart rate.
Some extra tips are:
- Get up slowly from sitting to standing;
- Move slowly from lying to a sitting position before standing up;
- Raising the head of your bed can be helpful for some;
- Eat small, frequent meals and lying down or sitting still for a while after eating may also help;
- Increase the amount of water you drink unless you have a kidney disorder.
Extreme hypotension can result in this life-threatening condition. Signs and symptoms may include: Confusion, especially in older people, pale cold and, clammy skin, their breathing may be rapid and shallow with weak and rapid pulse. If you are somewhere with a person exhibiting these symptoms, please call an ambulance immediately.
Here at Piece of Minds we use several techniques to reduce blood pressure to a normal level and hypnotherapy is also a very successful tool.