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Control Your Blood Pressure and Live Longer!

Written: 12/12/2007

Who has not have his/her blood pressure taken for almost every trip to the hospital? It is vital to have your blood pressure monitored constantly. Hypertension, also dubbed the silent killer, has made millions of victims around the world. It is the source of many cardiovascular (heart) troubles which are fatal. It is very easy though to delay its appearance and to control it afterwards.

To understand hypertension, you must first understand a more general notion: blood pressure. Blood pressure is the pressure at which your heart pumps blood around your body. This pressure is indicated by 2 numbers, for example 12/7. This means respectively a pressure of 120 mm and 70 mm of mercury.

The first number indicates the maximum blood pressure (systolic pressure) when your heart contracts itself to pump blood around your body.

The second number indicates the minimum blood pressure (diastolic pressure) when your heart is at rest and is filling itself up with blood.

The ideal pressure range for your blood is 12/7. You must understand though that these numbers vary with:

  • Age: Kids have lower blood pressure ranges while adults more than 55 years old have higher blood pressures.

  • Sex: Men have generally a higher blood pressure than women. But they catch up usually after menopause.

We talk about hypertension when your blood pressure is high. Doctors have fixed a threshold of 14/9. If your blood pressure is higher than 14/9, then you have hypertension.

Effects of Hypertension:

If it is usually unnoticed at the beginning, a prolonged state of hypertension can create troubles, which are sometimes minor but must be addressed nonetheless. A person with hypertension usually experience the following: wheezing sounds in his ears, bleedings in his/her nose, irregular heart beats and palpitations and a difficulty to breathe properly.

If left untreated the following may happen:

  • Your heart tires itself more easily: It pumps more vigorously and thus gets tired more easily.

  • Your arteries suffer too: The high pressure of the blood tend to damage the inner walls of your arteries. They become more fragile and cholesterol accumulate more easily on them, leading to the formation of fatty deposits on the linings of the walls. These fatty deposits clog your arteries and are responsible for the disease known as heart attack.

  • Brain complications: The small blood vessels in your brain are affected and can break down under these high pressures. These can provoke a stroke or lead to internal bleeding inside your brain.

  • Other organs suffer equally: Namely your eyes and kidneys.

Risks Factors of Hypertension

The problem with a high blood pressure is that it is usually linked to several other "bad" conditions or diseases which amplify its effects on your body. Here are some risk factors of hypertension which you must be careful of:

  • Hereditary Factor: Although not always true, there is a link between your parents having hypertension and you too getting it. If your parents have high blood pressures, you must be careful in your lifestyle and eating habits to avoid getting hypertension too.

  • Ethnic Factor: It appears, although this has not been scientifically proven, that people with darker skins are more prone to hypertension than fair-skinned persons. It seems that this has to do with the difficulty dark skinned persons have in getting rid of salt.

  • The famous salt: Is it that bad for our health? Yes in excess! It provokes a retention of water in our body which increases the blood pressure. In addition, the kidneys detecting an increase in the salt concentration in our body will ask the heart to pump more blood to them so as to eliminate the salt. An increase in the heart activity indicates an increase in blood pressure.

  • Overweight, a nutrition loaded with fats and physical inactivity: are all aggravating factors because they favor the apparition of cholesterol and fatty deposits. Those factors can also cause type II diabetes.

  • Smoking: is also extremely damaging for the whole cardiovascular system. It also contributes to the onset of premature aging of the arteries of blood vessels.

  • Stress: is well-known for increasing the blood pressure. Alcohol and coffee also have exciting effects on the heart.

  • Age: The inevitable result of age is also a risk factor. With age, arteries become less flexible, and encouraging the heart to pump harder to get blood to the organs. Doctors have long considered that it was normal to have a little tension high as they age.

How to take a blood pressure

It is almost child's play to measure blood pressure, at least in appearance. Three utensils are essential: the cuff, gauge measurement and a stethoscope. The doctor inflates the cuff to compress the artery. There is no noise in the stethoscope. Then he gradually deflates the cuff, thus releasing the pressure on the arm. The blood starts to move progressively, emitting a noise. The figure on the dial when the noise becomes noticeable is the maximum blood pressure. The figure on the dial when this noise disappears corresponds to the minimum blood pressure.

Here is a very informative video which explains how to take blood pressure with a variety of instruements and how to record it. If you don't understand a part of it or you are having trouble with the medical terms, please do not hesitate to ask me. I'll explain it to you.

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