Blood Pressure

  • Blood Pressure has several different categories.
    Low health risk associated with blood
    pressure is LESS than 120 systolic (or top number) over Less than 80 diastolic
    (or bottom number)- (written example:  119/79 or less).
    Not so Low Risk but not considered hypertensive is when a number falls between
    120-129 over a diastolic between  80-89
    (written example: 127/86).
    Stage 1 Hypertension is when the numbers
    fall between 140-159 systolic over 90-99 diastolic (written example: 150/92 or
    anything in between).
    Stage 2 Hypertension is when the numbers
    fall 160 or higher systolic over 100 or higher diastolic (written example:  175/105 or numbers in between).
    Hypertensive Crisis is when emergency
    care is needed is when a reading comes in higher than 180 systolic over higher
    than 110 diastolic!

Blood pressures vary at all points in the day, your blood pressure is lower in the morning then say during a stressful meeting at work or when you are late to an appointment.   The idea is that you maintain a normal or low risk blood pressure even during times of stress or heavy work load. Your blood pressure will rise with “stress”
but should recover quickly and be strong if you are in good condition.  The heart is a big muscle. It pumps blood throughout all the systems.

It could be defined as the the weight of the blood on the
walls of the arteries.  The force of the blood as it is pushed out of the heart is the systolic pressure number (how hard the heart is working right then to pump the volume to the other body systems) shown by the systolic number;  the retracting pressure is like a vacuum for the pump on the artery with a force all its own, the diastolic. The top numbers changes rapidly with work load, but the bottom number is fairly consistent and
generally creeps with age, slowing physical challenge, medication, etc.  Your heredity plays a huge role in your blood pressure, you can’t change that! Your physical fitness, weight and diet also play a large role in blood pressure. Other factors leading to hypertension to consider are alcohol consumption, excessive stress, and poor diet- including sodium intake, sleep habits and smoking.

Checking your blood pressure regularly is a good idea in
order to know if there are creeping changes you are not aware of, since blood
pressure is something you cannot “feel” as it changes over time. It is called
the “silent killer” because it causes the artery walls to become weak and split
suddenly leading to a stroke or heart attack.  Like a hose that you’ve used for years, it may seem fine when you pull it from the garage and hook it up to the sprinkler, but
turn the facet on to water the lawn. and it may suddenly spring a leak through
a hole you didn’t know was there!

Pharmacy’s all over the place (grocery stores included) usually have an automatic blood pressure cuff or the pharmacist will take it for you if you ask and he/she is not busy. You can also purchase a cuff there too for $25-$50 and learn to use it. Check that the cuff size fits according to the directions and see your doctor for practical instruction. Health screenings are also a good opportunity to learn more about your pressure and if you haven’t had it taken in a while, don’t be surprised if it comes in a little high…it’s a teachable moment. Some folks even discover information about their family history after they have their blood pressure taken for the first time– ahh, the value of education.

 American Heart Association Information on High Blood Pressure Resource page.