Understanding Blood Pressure and Hypertension Part 1: Understanding High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is a serious condition that affects millions of people in the United States every year. Left untreated, hypertension can lead to heart disease, stroke, and other serious health problems. But with proper treatment and lifestyle changes, you can control your blood pressure and protect your health.
In this 3-part series, we will review the basics of blood pressure, causes and risks of hypertension, as well as treatment options available. While it is great to gather information, if you have any questions or concerns, please ask your primary care physician or doctor as soon as possible.
What is Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of arteries as it flows through them. Blood pressure is determined by two factors: the amount of blood your heart pumps and the resistance to blood flow in your arteries.
Your blood pressure rises and falls throughout the day, depending on how active you are, how stressed you are, or how much you eat. In general, a healthy blood pressure is considered to be less than 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mmHg). However, for some people with hypertension, the results may be higher.
How to Check Blood Pressure
Blood pressure can be checked manually with a sphygmomanometer or electronically with an automated device. To get a smooth and accurate reading, you should stay still for about 5 minutes before the measurement in order to avoid any sudden fluctuations.
To measure blood pressure, your doctor or nurse will put a blood pressure cuff around your arm and inflate it to temporarily stop the flow of blood. They will then release the cuff and listen for the sound of blood rushing through your artery. The reading will be recorded as your systolic blood pressure (the top number) over your diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number).
There are two different times checking blood pressure can help provide a complete picture whether it is resting or active.
Resting Blood Pressure:
This is typically done first thing in the morning after you wake up,
when your blood pressure will be at its lowest.
Active Blood Pressure:
This is typically done later in the day when your blood pressure will be at its highest.
Measuring at both times will help give your doctor a better idea of what is happening with your blood pressure throughout the day.
Normal Blood Pressure Range
According to the American Heart Association, healthy blood pressure is considered to be less than 120/80 mmHg for most adults. However, it’s important to keep in mind that blood pressure can vary from person to person and day to day. So if your blood pressure is consistently higher than 120/80 mmHg, it’s important to talk to your doctor about what may be causing it and how you can treat it.
Caring for Patients
As we age, our blood vessels become less flexible and more stiff, which can cause an increase in systolic blood pressure. In addition, the volume of blood pumped by the heart may also decrease as we age, further contributing to an increase in blood pressure.
Because of these contributing factors along with others, we at Centric Home Health and Hospice, understand the needs of elderly patients when it is related to blood pressure. We are centric about our patients’ needs and helping them navigate their health journey whether that is through Home Health, Hospice, or Palliative Care. Contact us today to learn more about our home health and hospice services.