There are many health issues and conditions(diseases) that are associated with your lifestyle. High blood pressure or hypertension is one of such health conditions associated with your lifestyle. A large majority of people develop primary hypertension as they grow old.
What is Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is the force of the blood gushing through your blood vessels (arteries). It is the force required for the circulation of the blood throughout the entire body and is produced by the pumping heart.
How do you measure blood pressure?
It is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and is represented using two numbers such as 120/80 mmHg. The two different readings represent the systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Systolic pressure: Systolic pressure is the pressure exerted by the blood against the artery walls when your heart is pumping. It is the first/higher reading among the two.
Diastolic pressure: Diastolic pressure is the pressure exerted by the blood against the artery walls when your heart rests between two beats. It is the second/lower reading among the two.
Below is a video tutorial on how to measure blood pressure at home by AlliedHealthToolsLLC. Watching this video tutorial will surely help you understand the basics of how to correctly measure blood pressure at home using the blood pressure cuff.
The ideal/ normal blood pressure is considered between 90-120 for systolic blood pressure and 60-80 for diastolic blood pressure. Or between 90/60 mmHg and 120/80 mmHg.
What is High Blood Pressure?
The blood pressure reading in between normal blood pressure and high blood pressure i.e. 120/80 mmHg and 140/90 mmHg is considered as pre-high blood pressure.
Hypertension, on the other hand, is a condition where the blood pressure reading is more than normal. If we take into account the high blood pressure readings then it is above 140/90 mmHg and above.
High blood pressure number/range or high blood pressure readings are between 140/90 mmHg to 190/100 mmHg.
The increased blood pressure may eventually damage your blood vessels and cause harm to your body organs. Your heart and kidneys are more at risk due to hypertension.
The reason behind the increase in blood pressure may be due to blockage in the blood vessels that appear over the years. Or maybe due to other medical conditions leading to heart disease and stroke.
High Blood Pressure Types:
- Primary hypertension or essential hypertension, and
- Secondary hypertension,
The increase in blood pressure gradually over the years as one grows old is known as primary hypertension. And the sudden increase in blood pressure due to other underlying causes is known as secondary hypertension.
If you compare these two, secondary hypertension is more dangerous and needs immediate treatment. The essential hypertension is relatively less fetal but still needs attention. Both of them can lead to serious health conditions such as heart attack, kidney failure, stroke, etc.
High Blood Pressure Facts:
- Nearly half of American adults develop high blood pressure as they grow old. – According to the American Heart Association.
- People with high blood pressure do not show any sign most of the time making it difficult to identify.
- The best way to know whether your blood pressure is high is by having your blood pressure checked.
Symptoms of High Blood Pressure:
Hypertension may go unnoticed unless it gets to a critical condition. It is because of the fact that hypertension shows no symptoms what so ever. Only a few people who are suffering from hypertension show any real signs and symptoms and that too may be linked with other health conditions.
Some of the common signs and symptoms of hypertension are:
- Frequent dizziness,
- Severe headaches,
- Shortness of breath,
- Blurry visions,
- Breathing difficulties,
- Chest pain,
- Blood in the urine, etc.
Causes of High Blood Pressure:
Primary hypertension causes: There are no known causes of Primary hypertension in adults. It occurs gradually over the years due to increased rigidity and shrinking of the artery walls. Blockages in blood vessels are one of the primary causes of primary hypertension.
Secondary hypertension causes: Secondary hypertension is caused due to different underlying health conditions in different age group such as;
- In children and adolescents (aged below 18 years): Renal Parenchymal disease and Coarctation of the aorta may cause secondary hypertension in children.
- Young adults (aged between 19 to 39 years): Thyroid dysfunction, Fibromuscular dysplasia, and Renal Parenchymal disease may cause secondary hypertension.
- Middle-aged adults (aged between 40 to 64 years): Hyperdosternumnism, Thyroid dysfunction, Cushing syndrome, Obstructive sleep apnea, Pheochromocytoma, etc may cause secondary hypertension.
- Old aged people (65 and above): Renal failure, Atherosclerotic renal artery stenosis, Hyprothyrodism, etc may cause secondary hypertension.
What are the causes of sudden high blood pressure?
Apart from the primary causes of high blood pressure, there are other factors that may come into play causing blood pressure to spike suddenly. These factors include;
- Certain medicines,
- Caffeine drinks,
- Use of drugs,
- Chronic diseases such as kidney disease,
- Collagen vascular disorder,
- Drinking too much alcohol, etc.
High Blood Pressure Risk Factors:
Hypertension is a common condition in adults. It is however also seen in kids and young adults as a result of some underlying health conditions. We have already mentioned some of the most common health conditions that may trigger hypertension in people.
There are many risk factors of hypertension associated with lifestyle, unhealthy habits, and genetic factors. Let us discuss these risk factors in detail and find out how they contribute to causing hypertension.
Following are the risk factors of hypertension:
- Overweight or obese: Being overweight or obese significantly increases the risk of you developing hypertension. It is mainly due to the fact that when you are overweight or obese, your body requires more blood in order to circulate the increasing demand for oxygen and nutrients. The increased volume of blood pumped by the heart increases the pressure on the walls of the blood vessels.
- Age: The risk of developing high blood pressure or primary hypertension increases as you grow old. So, the older you grow with every passing year the higher will be your blood pressure. It is however not the case always. Even children are at risk of developing hypertension these days.
- Genetic: Many studies and researches have suggested that primary hypertension tends to pass from one generation to another in some families. This has something to do with their bad genes that get transferred down the generation. In a report published by NIH on hypertension, it states that certain DNA changes as an unborn baby grows in the womb. It may lead to hypertension later in life. Thus your family history plays an important role in determining whether you will develop high blood pressure in the future or not.
- Race: Many research conducted over the years also suggests that people of some races tend to develop hypertension more often than others. Primary hypertension is common is people of African lineage.
- Sedentary lifestyle: People who are physically inactive are more at risk of developing hypertension. It is mainly due to the fact that physically inactive people often have higher heartbeat rates. This causes the heart to work much harder and pumps the blood with much force causing increased pressure to the walls of arteries.
- Drinking alcohol: Drinking alcohol regularly increases your chances of developing hypertension. Drinking sometimes is fine but drinking too much can damage your heart and cause your blood pressure to increase. It is thus important that you avoid drinking alcohol excessively.
- Smoking or chewing tobacco: You might be aware of the possible health risk of smoking tobacco. And if you haven’t heard of it just yet, let me brief it for you. Smoking tobacco Not only does smoking or chewing tobacco damages your lungs but the chemicals present in tobacco also destroys the walls of your arteries that carry blood to different body parts. It causes your arteries to shrink down. This increases the pressure on the artery walls. Thus you could say smoking is both harmful for your lungs and heart.
- Too much stress: As the saying goes “too much of something is always dangerous”, too much stress is harmful to you as well. Stress can increase your blood pressure temporarily. And if you feel stress for a longer period of time, your blood pressure stays high for a relatively long time as well. This is bad for your heart health. So try to stay and live a stress-free life.
- Medical conditions: Some medical conditions (diseases)such as sleep apnea, kidney disease, thyroid dysfunction, etc can cause your blood pressure to increase.
High Blood Pressure Complications:
The increased blood pressure level is not a problem on its own. But increased pressure may cause a wide range of health conditions (side effects) including heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, and more.
The longer your blood pressure stays higher, the severe consequences will get. The same goes for the level of blood pressure i.e. higher the blood pressure, the greater will be the damage dealt with your body.
Following are the side effects of having high blood pressure:
- Heart attack: Uncontrolled hypertension for a longer period of time can significantly damage your arteries causing them to grow thick and hard. The thickening of arteries may cause blockages much like high cholesterol which may result in a heart attack and stroke.
- Heart failure: Heart failure is the result of your heart muscle growing thick resulting in failure to pump blood effectively. This eventually leads to heart failure. It is one of the common side effects of having high blood pressure levels.
- Kidney diseases: Kidneys are the filters of your body and require blood in filtering the waste materials. An increase in pressure causes the arteries around the kidneys to narrow or harden causing kidney disease.
- Stroke: Hypertension can cause your arteries to narrow, harden, and even rupture. This can cause blood clots in the arteries which eventually prevents blood from reaching your brain. The lack of oxygen and nutrients carried by the blood causes a stroke.
- Memory loss: Much like stroke, memory loss occurs when your brain is deprived of the essential nutrients needed for your brain to function properly. High blood pressure can cause damage to the arteries leading to your brain. This makes it difficult for the blood to pass and reach your brain. Thus, your brain is deprived of the essential nutrients which it requires to function properly.
- Eyesight problems: High blood pressure can lead to the damaged optic nerve which may cause internal eye bleeding and vision loss. Furthermore, high blood pressure can cause damage to the light-sensitive tissue at the back of your eye.
How To Prevent High Blood Pressure?
It is important that you maintain your health even as you grow old. Doing so will help to live a long and disease-free life. A healthy lifestyle is a combination of eating a balanced diet and developing healthy habits.
Below are some of the tips on a healthy lifestyle that you can abide by in order to prevent hypertension.
1. Maintain a Healthy Body Weight:
Your body weight is something that you should constantly monitor. Being overweight or obese can significantly increase your chances of developing high blood pressure in the latter stages of life.
Monitoring your body weight is not much of a problem and can be done easily. All you have to do is know your body height and weight. You can then calculate the BMI score by dividing your body weight by the square of your body height in meters.
If your BMI score is >= 24 then you have a healthy body weight. But if your BMI score is <= 25 you should do something immediately to lose excess body weight. There are many different ways to lose bodyweight in case you are wondering how to lose weight.
Here are some of the effective ways that’ll help you achieve your weight loss goal faster;
- Going on intermittent fasting,
- Going on a low carb diet such as the keto diet,
- Exercising on a daily basis,
- Meditation and yoga, etc.
2. Eat Healthy Foods:
Foods are the essence of your life. The food that you eat makes up your entire body. Eating healthy foods in a balanced way helps to make your body fit and disease-free.
Having a healthy body helps to fight against any and all kinds of diseases and illnesses including hypertension. It is thus important that you eat healthy foods keeping your health in mind.
Eating a balanced diet every day is one way of maintaining your health and physique even as you grow old. You might have seen many healthy old adults around you.
If you ask them their secret behind their health, they would most probably tell you that they eat healthily and exercise regularly. There’s no other way around when it comes to maintaining the physique and staying healthy.
The most important of all is that you start healthy living practice as early as possible. Since foods are no elixir. Your body requires time to process every essential nutrient required before it starts shaping up.
Below we have listed the foods that you need to include in your high blood pressure diet (dash diet);
- Include lots of veggies and fruits,
- Include seafood in your plate,
- Avoid red meat,
- Avoid processed food items,
- Use mild spices in the food,
- Only eat seasonal foods available locally,
- Go for organic foods, etc.
Still confused about what to eat? Here’s a list of healthy foods for you to include in your daily diet.
Here’s the list of foods you should avoid that are rich in sodium and causes high blood pressure;
- Processed foods,
- Canned foods (canned soup, pickles, fish, etc.),
- Packet foods (chips, peanuts, popcorns, etc.)
- Seasonings (catchup, sauce, salad dressings, etc.)
3. Active Lifestyle:
It is important that you do not forget the fundamentals of the human body i.e. the human body is a complex machine. And much like any other machine that malfunctions when left unused for a long time, your body grows dull and stops functioning properly.
According to an article published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an active and healthy lifestyle helps keep your blood pressure at a healthy level.
An active lifestyle helps your body to stay fit and function properly. So, even if you have a job that keeps you seated on a chair most of the time, find some time to exercise and stretch your body. It is pretty much easy to keep your body active.
Here’s what you can do to keep your body active and fit;
- go on walks every morning or in the evening,
- play outdoor games that require you to move your entire body,
- go for Zumba classes,
- workout on the gym for at least 30 minutes a day,
- go for cycling once in a while or every day,
- go swimming, etc.
4. Avoid Smoking and Use of Tobacco:
If you are someone who is into tobacco products then you must have read the warning labeled on the packaging of the products. It clearly mentions that smoking and chewing tobacco is dangerous for your health.
It can cause diseases such as cancer and may damage your arteries which may cost you your life. But most people still choose to ignore these critical warning signs and smoke and chew tobacco on a daily basis which is the worst thing to do.
Smoking can increase your blood pressure level and take you to harm’s way. You are at risk of developing heart disease and stroke. So it is highly advised that you do not use any and all kinds of tobacco products.
5. Avoid Drinking Excessively:
Drinking occasionally or drinking a limited amount of liquor might not prove to be dangerous. But if you drink excessively and on a regular basis, you are at a higher risk of developing hypertension. It is thus important that you avoid drinking if possible or at least limit the amount that you drink every day.
6. Get Enough Sleep:
It is important that you get enough sleep every day. Lack of sleep can cause your blood pressure to increase. Going to bed early and waking up early in the morning can help you get enough sleep.
Trouble falling asleep, you might be suffering from insomnia, a sleeping disorder. Learn more about insomnia and how to cure it.
High Blood Pressure Treatment:
Effective treatment of primary hypertension naturally without medication is possible. But it can only be treated in the initial stages. Once your blood pressure reaches a point it starts affecting your quality of life, seeing a doctor is highly advised.
Only a doctor or health professional is qualified in treating hypertension once it takes the shape of a disease. So it is important that you monitor your blood pressure level from time to time. This way you’ll be able to figure it out before it starts to run wild.
Getting yourself a blood pressure cuff at home can come in handy in case you would want your blood pressure checked from time to time.
Below are some of the ways to control your blood pressure naturally:
1. Eat a Balanced Diet (Dash Diet):
There’s a popular proverb that says “the food you eat is what you become” and it is quite true if you consider the facts that we get everything we need to survive from the food we eat.
It is thus important that we eat healthy foods, a balanced diet every day even if we are healthy. But if you are someone who happens to get diagnosed with primary hypertension, it becomes more of a necessity.
Practicing healthy eating habits such as eating a dash diet rich in fruits and vegetables instead of meat and dairy can have a positive impact on your blood pressure readings.
Another direct benefit of eating the dash diet is that it contains a higher amount of potassium. Potassium helps to negate the effects of sodium in your blood and helps to manage high blood pressure levels.
2. Cut Down on Your Sodium Intake:
Sodium consumption is directly linked with increased blood pressure levels. It is one thing that you need to distance yourself from and you do not have a choice or an option here.
Limiting the intake of sodium is one way of subduing your blood pressure. If you happen to be an adult, try to limit your sodium intake between 1500 mg to 2300 mg a day.
If you cut down on your sodium intake per day then it’ll be a piece of cake to manage high blood pressure levels for you.
The best way to cut down on your sodium intake is to not include salt in your food. Also, avoid foods and beverages rich in sodium content as much as possible.
3. Losing Weight May Help:
Your body weight is linked with your overall health. If you are overweight or obese and have high blood pressure, losing even a few pounds could have a significant effect on your blood pressure level.
There is more than one way of losing body weight including meditation and yoga, going on a low carb diet, intensive exercises, intermittent fasting, etc. You can choose any of the above-mentioned ways for achieving your weight loss goal.
The more you lose weight and get fit the better your blood pressure readings will get. It is true for losing weight sooner. So set a time duration for achieving your weight loss goal and start working out from today itself.
4. Exercise Regularly:
Exercising on a regular basis is good for your overall health, especially for your heart health. It makes your heart stronger and keeps it healthy and functioning.
Another benefit of exercising regularly is that it helps to lower your blood pressure efficiently. But keep in mind that once you stop exercising, your blood pressure will return to its original level. So exercise every day for at least 30 minutes or more.
Some of the best ways of exercising are walking, swimming, jogging, cycling, dancing, aerobics, yoga, etc.
5. Stop Chewing and Smoking Tobacco Products:
The chemical present in tobacco causes your blood pressure level to rise rapidly which is bad. What’s worse is that your blood pressure levels stay that way for a longer period of time.
Increased level of blood pressure for a longer period of time can cause some serious damage to your body organs, especially your heart and kidney. It also increases your chances of getting a heart attack and stroke.
In addition, chewing and smoking tobacco is one of the primary causes of cancer in people. People who smoke a lot are at risk of developing cancer or tumor cells in different body parts including the mouth, and lungs.
So if you want to live a long and healthy life, it is advised that you quit smoking. The sooner you stop smoking the better it is for your overall health.
6. Negate Drinking Liquor:
Drinking alcohol might not sound like a good idea at first, especially when you are diagnosed with primary hypertension. And you are right to have your concerns since your health is more important than anything else.
If you consult your doctor then you’d get the same kinds of response. Drinking excessively can cause your blood pressure levels to rise which may then take a few hours to return to normal. And if the process continues for a longer period of time, then the effects can be permanent.
However, If you choose to limit your actual amount to a peck or two then you’d not have to worry much. Drinking two pecks a day for men and one peck for women can actually help to prevent high blood pressure.
7. Practice Meditation:
Stress contributes to the increasing level of blood pressure in many different ways. Eating excessively or unhealthy foods when you are stressed can contribute to your increasing blood pressure. It is thus important to manage your stress levels.
The best way to manage stress is to practice meditation and yoga every day. Practicing meditation is a great healthy living practice and can help you live a long and stress-free life.
Practicing meditation on a regular basis helps to relieve all your day to day stress which may otherwise get bottled up if nothing is done. By practicing meditation and yoga, you become more aware of your inner self and thus can do more to take care of your body.
In addition, meditational practices help to take care of your unnecessary worries which may cause irritation and mood swings followed by high blood pressure levels.
8. Find an Alternative for Your Favorite Caffeine Drinks:
There are no solid pieces of evidence of whether consuming caffeine can actually increase your blood pressure or not. But in rare cases, it is seen that consuming caffeine contributes to increased blood pressure for occasional drinkers.
So if you are someone who likes to enjoy caffeine drinks occasionally, there’s a slim chance of you experiencing a temporary surge in your blood pressure levels which is normal.
But if you do not want to go through all these then you might as well give up on your favorite caffeine drinks and look for alternatives. Here are a few healthy drinks that you can enjoy instead of your old favorite;
- Apple cider vinegar,
- Coconut water,
- Hot lemon,
- Black tea,
- Matcha latte, etc.
9. Pet Therapy:
“Pets are man’s best friend” and it is true to some extent since your pet can also be your health partner. Living with pets is actually beneficial in many different ways. Blood pressure control is one of them.
Living with pets makes for an active lifestyle which is good for keeping your blood pressure level checked. Furthermore, spending time with your pet or simply laying down with your pet is known to drop your blood pressure level by as much as 10 points.
If you consider the health impact and how easy it is to get, pet therapy is by far the easiest and most effective way of managing your pressure levels. So you might as well start spending more time with your pet best friend.
Primary hypertension is a medical condition, a disease that occurs over the course of many years. So it can be prevented if you choose to practice healthy living in the early stages of your life.
Secondary hypertension, however, is unpredictable and can occur at any time which is a frightening and more serious medical condition. So there’s always a huge risk involved whenever someone suffers from it.
Taking medical advice from an expert or a doctor is highly suggested in case you are suffering from any kind of health problem. Adopting precautionary measures can work in your favor and lower your risk of suffering for both primary and secondary hypertension.
Thus it is important that you practice healthy living. One that involves healthy eating habits, an active lifestyle, time for meditation, and time to relax down. Spending time with your family and loved ones is equally important when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle.