290516 Knowing your numbers – blood pressure

290516 Knowing your numbers – blood pressure

High blood pressure is commonly referred to as the silent killer because unless it is extremely high there are no outward symptoms or signs.

High blood pressure is a contributing factor to:

  • Strokes
    • Very high pressure can cause a break in a weakened blood vessel, which then bleeds into the brain. This can cause a stroke. If a blood clot blocks one of the narrowed arteries, it can also cause a stroke.
  • Eyes
    • Continuous or high blood pressure can in time cause blood vessels in the eye(s) to burst or bleed. Your vision may become blurred or otherwise impaired. This can result in blindness.
  • Arteries
    • As people age, the arteries throughout the body harden, particularly those in the heart, brain, and kidneys. High blood pressure is associated with and is a direct contributor to these stiffer arteries. This in turn, causes both the heart and kidneys to work harder to do their job of keeping the body healthy.
  • Kidney
    • The job of the kidneys is to act as filters to rid the body of wastes. Over time, high blood pressure can narrow and thicken the blood vessels of the kidneys. Once this happens the kidneys filter less fluid. This causes waste to build up in the blood. At this point, the kidneys may fail altogether. When this happens, medical intervention is necessary and treatment in the way of dialysis or a kidney transplant are distinct possibilities.
  • Heart
    • A major risk factor for heart attack is high blood pressure. Throughout the body, the arteries bring oxygen-enriched blood to the heart muscle. Without enough oxygen in the heart, chest pain, known as angina, can occur. If this blood flow back to the heart is blocked, a heart attack results.
  • Congestive Heart Failure
    • High blood pressure is the number one risk factor for congestive heart failure (CHF). CHF is a serious condition in which the heart is unable to pump enough blood to supply the body’s needs.

Therefore, it’s important to know whether not you have high blood pressure. And the only way you know this is to have your blood pressure checked.

Blood pressure is both measured, and displayed with two numbers. The first number is a systolic this is the highest pressure in the arteries when your heart beats. The second number is the diastolic pressure. This, the lowest number, is when your heart is resting between strokes.

The ideal blood pressure is under 120 over 80. Anything above these two numbers is either pre-hypertension or hypertension. A blood pressure level of 140/90 mmHg or higher is considered high blood pressure. About two-thirds of people over the age of 65 have high blood pressure.

If you have had your blood pressure checked and it is between 120/80 mmHg and 139/89 mmHg, then you have prehypertension.