BP (Blood pressure) is the pressure created on the walls of blood vessel by circulation of blood. It is typically measured in mmHg (millimeters of mercury). It is expressed in terms of systolic pressure over diastolic pressure. Normal blood pressure in a healthy adult is considered to be 120/80 mmHg [120 mmHg (systolic) over 80 mmHg (diastolic).
There are two major types of blood pressure disorder.
- Low Blood Pressure
- High Blood Pressure
Typically, blood pressure reading in the tunes of 90/60mmHg, or lower is considered to be low blood pressure. Remember, just one of the systolic or diastolic numbers need to be lower than usual to be considered as low blood pressure. This means:
- If the systolic number is 90 or lesser, irrespective of the diastolic number, it may be low blood pressure.
- If the diastolic number is 60 or lesser, irrespective of the systolic number, it may be low blood pressure.
Symptoms or signs of low blood pressure are:
- Light-headedness or wooziness
- Black out (fainting)
- Blurry eyesight
- Lack of attentiveness
- Mental Confusion
- Pale, damp, cold skin
- Breathing difficulties
- Weak pulse
To diagnose low blood pressure in a patient, blood pressure and pulse rate are repeatedly checked after a patient has been lying down, soon after he or she stands, and in a few minutes of him or her standing. Doctors may also prescribe Electrocardiogram (ECG) and Echocardiogram. Some patients may also be advised blood tests, exercise stress test or, EP test (electrophysiology test).
Causes of low blood pressure include:
- Hormonal disorders including hypothyroidism, diabetes, or hypoglycemia
- Medicinal side effects
- Heart failure
- Heart arrhythmias
- Blood vessel dilation
- Heat stroke
- Liver diseases
- Excessive bleeding
- Low/high body temperature
- Heart muscle diseases
- Acute dehydration
- Medication or alcohol reaction
It is possible to prevent and treat low blood pressure. Here are some ways to prevent low blood pressure using healthy diet and lifestyle:
- Ensure higher salt intake in diet.
- Intake lots of non-alcoholic fluids.
- Don’t partake in alcohol consumption.
- Drink more water or other fluids during summers and when suffering from viral illness.
- Exercise regularly.
- When getting out of bed, sit upright for a few minutes.
- Avoid lifting heavy objects.
- Don’t strain when in toilet.
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals.
- Don’t take drugs or medication before meals.
The following medication is used to treat low blood pressure:
- Fludrocortisone – It promotes sodium retention by the kidney to improve blood pressure. However, sodium retention can cause a loss of potassium. Therefore, ensure taking enough potassium daily, when taking fludrocortisone.
- Midodrine– It increases blood pressure by activating artery and vein receptors.
Some of the most common risk factors for low blood pressure are:
- Chances of low blood pressure during pregnancy increase manifold because a woman's circulatory system expands rapidly during pregnancy.
- Dehydration can cause low blood pressure. It is important to keep the body hydrated at all times because dehydration can cause a life-threatening complication oflow blood pressure.
- Excessive blood loss reduces blood in the body leading to sudden low blood pressure.
- Exposure to severe heat may cause excessive sweating which may lead to dehydration and low blood pressure.
- Intake of alcohol increases the chances of low blood pressure.
- Some antidepressants, antipsychotics, muscle relaxants, narcotics medicines and medicines to erectile dysfunction and Parkinson's disease may cause low blood pressure.
Low blood pressure can lead to several complications including:
- Vision Impairment
- Constant Mental confusion
- Constant Fainting
- Mental Shocks
Typically, blood pressure reading equal to or more than 140/90mmHg is considered high blood pressure. Like low blood pressure, just one of the systolic or diastolic numbers need to be higher than usual in high BP. This means:
- If the systolic number is 140 or higher, irrespective of the diastolic number, it may be high blood pressure.
- If the diastolic number is 90 or higher, irrespective of the systolic number, it may be low blood pressure.
Common symptoms of high blood pressure are:
- Severe headache
- Mental confusion
- Blurry Vision
- Pain in chest
- Breathing difficulty
- Uneven pulse
- Blood in urine
- Chest pounding
To determine the condition of low blood pressure in a patient, doctors may suggest ECG (electrocardiogram), and echocardiogram (an ultrasound test to visualize the heart). Patients may also be advised blood tests, stress test and/or electrophysiology test (EP test).
Some of the most common causes of high blood pressure are:
- Excessive weight or obesity
- Intake of excessive salt
- Intake of excessive alcohol
- Family history of high blood pressure
- Chronic kidney disease
- Adrenal and thyroid disorders
- Sleep apnea
It is possible to prevent and treat high blood pressure. Here are some ways to prevent high blood pressure using healthy diet and lifestyle:
- Weight loss in case of obesity
- Quitting smoking
- Healthy diets with lot of fruits, vegetables, and low fat dairy products
- Reducing sodium intake in diets.
- Regular exercise
- Limiting alcohol intake
Treatment of high blood pressure can be done using several types of drugs such as:
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
- Calcium channel blockers
- Renin inhibitors
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs)
- Combination medications
Common risk factors for high blood pressure include:
- Family history of high blood pressure.
- Chronic kidney disease (CKD) may cause high blood pressure.
- Lack of physical activity may cause high blood pressure.
- Excessive sodium intake in diets may cause high blood pressure.
- Excessive fat or obesity may cause high blood pressure.
- Intake of too much alcohol may lead to high blood pressure.
- Obstructive sleep apnea may increase the risk of developing high blood pressure.
- High cholesterol can lead to high blood pressure.
- Patients suffering from Diabetes are more vulnerable to high blood pressure.
- Smoking and tobacco can lead to high blood pressure.
- Too much stress may lead to high blood pressure.
Untreated high blood pressure can lead to several complications including:
- Heart attack or stroke
- Heart failure
- Kidney failure
- Vision Impairment
- Metabolic syndrome
- Mental confusion
Myth #1: Low blood pressure is nothing to be worried about.
Reality: Low blood pressure, also referred to as hypotension, is a medical condition that can lead to several life-threatening complications.
Myth #2: Those with family history of high blood pressure can’t do anything to prevent it.
Reality: While it is true that those with family history of high blood pressure are more likely to develop it, it can be prevented by healthy diet and lifestyle.
Myth #3: High blood pressure patients show symptoms like anxiety, sweating, and sleep disorder. Those who don’t have such symptoms don’t have high blood pressure.
Reality: Sometimes, high blood pressure patients may not experience any symptoms for years. That’s why it makes sense to get your blood pressure checked regularly.
Myth #4: Blood pressure patients must drink wine heavily.
Reality: Heavy wine drinking can increase blood pressure, which may lead to heart failure or stroke.
Myth #5: Those diagnosed with high blood pressure stop taking medicines when their blood pressure level is maintained.
Reality: High blood pressure is a lifelong medical condition and one shouldn’t stop taking medicines without recommendations of a certified medical professional. Remember, blood pressure can fluctuate leading to several complications.
1) Is it good to have low blood pressure?
Ans: Blood pressure disorder is a medical condition that may lead to several life-threatening complications. Having low blood pressure may cause several problems such as light-headedness, wooziness, fainting, blurry vision, nausea, exhaustion and mental confusion.
Fortunately, you can easily keep your blood pressure level in check by embracing these healthy lifestyle choices:
- Being active
- Quitting smoking
- Limiting the intake of salt in diet
- Ensuring healthy and balanced diet
- Not partaking in heavy alcohol drinking
Furthermore, do well to get your blood pressure level checked at regular intervals and immediately consult your doctor if you find your blood pressure level is not in healthy range.
2) Does low blood pressure affect pregnancy?
Ans: A large number of pregnant women tend to show the symptoms of low blood pressure during pregnancy. Low blood pressure doesn’t affect pregnancy or harm the unborn. However, it is important to get in touch with a certified medical professional about any symptoms you’re experiencing during pregnancy.
3) Can diabetes cause low blood pressure?
Ans: Yes! Diabetes leads to nerve damages and if the part of the nervous system that regulates the blood pressure is affected, it can lead postural hypotension. In this medical condition, you may experience sudden drop in your blood pressure when standing up.
4) What health issues usually follow high blood pressure?
Ans: High blood pressure can lead to several serious and life-threatening health issues. Some such health conditions are:
- Heart Issues: High blood pressure may lead to ischemic heart disease (a medical condition where the heart tissue doesn’t get enough oxygen and blood), Heart failure and hypertensive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (stiffened, atypically heart muscles).
- Kidney Issues: High blood pressure can easily damage the blood vessels and cause harm to the kidney filters. Resultantly, kidneys aren’t able to properly excrete body waste. Here it is important to remember that some kidney diseases also cause high blood pressure in case enough sodium isn’t secreted.
- Stroke: High blood pressure can cause stroke. It can either contribute to atherosclerosis leading to blockages of and/or clots in arteries, or by causing the blood vessel wall to rupture.
- Atherosclerosis: This is a medical condition where arteries are blocked and/or clotted due to plaque, or fatty material. High blood pressure contributes to this disease by adding to the blockage or clot.
- Eyesight Disorders: High blood pressure may lead to damage of blood vessels in the retina causing to vision disorders, temporary blindness or permanent vision impairment.
5) Is there a way to find out if I have High Blood Pressure?
Ans: Typically, high blood pressure patients don’t really experience any symptoms. This is the reason why it is imperative to consult a certified medical professional and get your blood pressure routinely checked at regular intervals. If you have a family history of blood pressure or experience any risk factors associated with high blood pressure, it is vital to consult a certified medical professional immediately. If you’re experiencing strong headache, pounding chest, breathing difficulty, or sudden loss of stamina, it makes sense to immediately consult your doctor.
6) Is there a side effect of high blood pressure medicines?
Ans: High blood pressure medicines are known to have some side effects. Some of the most common side effects are:
- Alpha-blockers: Lightheadedness, strong headaches, pounding chest, nausea, sudden fatigue, weight gain
- Beta-blockers: Lightheadedness, erectile disorder, weak pulse, slow heart rate
- Angiotensin receptor blockers: Sudden fatigue, fainting, diarrhea, lightheadedness
- Diuretics: Strong headaches, sudden weakness
- Calcium channel blockers: Lightheadedness, swelling in feet and ankle, constant constipation and heart rhythm disorder
- ACE inhibitors: Constant dry cough, strong headaches, occasional diarrhea
7) Can prescribed and over-the-counter medicines cause high blood pressure?
Ans: Some over-the-counter medicines and drugs are known to cause high blood pressure. Some such most common medicines are erythropoietin, amphetamines, certain birth control pills, methylphenidate, cyclosporine and certain medicines used for the treatment of migraine. Furthermore, medicines used for the treatment of allergy and cold, and medicines used as appetite suppressants are also known to cause high blood pressure.
8) When to get in touch with your doctor about high blood pressure?
Ans: Patients diagnosed with high blood pressure must go for regular blood pressure check-ups and must routinely consult their doctors. In case you feel that your body isn’t responding to the prescribed high blood pressure medicines, you must immediately consult your doctor. If you’re experiencing side effects of blood pressure medicines, you must immediately seek medical attention.
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