High Blood Pressure Symptoms and Causes
What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the pressure of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries. Normally, this pressure is a good thing because it forces blood to flow through your organs and other parts of the body.
Blood pressure can be high for many reasons. The levels that are considered normal vary from person to person and from age to age. A doctor will measure your blood pressure as part of a physical exam and may say it's "normal" even when it's higher than what most people would consider healthy for you if you're over 40 or so years old (130/80 mmHg).
Here are the common causes of high blood pressure. You should discuss all of them with your doctor to see if you need additional testing or treatment.
High blood pressure happens when some people have an increased risk for it, usually because of their family history or a health problem that can lead to the condition . Or they may be born with it. The condition is also called "essential hypertension" because even if you don't have any specific underlying disease causing it, you still tend to get this dangerous heart condition. High blood pressure is one of the only reasons for a physician (and even many non-doctors) to ask you about your family history — and therefore, the reason most people think they know everything there is to know about it.
Symptoms of High Blood Pressure
There are many signs and symptoms of high blood pressure. These may include:
· Nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain.
· Eyesight problems, such as blurred vision, eye pain or swelling, light sensitivity, double vision or detached retina.
But many people have no symptoms at all until they get high blood pressure and then they may suddenly experience a wide range of serious health problems caused by it. And that's another important point — the vast majority of people who have high blood pressure don't even know it.
Causes of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can have many causes — too much salt in the diet, smoking, obesity, lack of exercise, high stress levels and more. And often people don't realize they're contributing to their own high blood pressure levels either by eating salty foods or by not getting enough exercise or lowering the amount of stress in their lives.
In many cases, high blood pressure is hereditary. It may run in families, but also has been known to develop independently as well. When there is a family history of hypertension it is best to consult with a physician about potential treatment options in order to avoid any potential complications that could arise down the road if left untreated.
Hypertension alone is not the cause of diabetes. Diabetes develops when we don't manage the symptoms caused by high blood pressure (all of which can be controlled, once diagnosed).
High Blood Pressure Treatment
If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, your doctor will likely recommend a combination of lifestyle changes and medical medications to help manage it. The best thing to do is discuss the problem and all options for treatment with your physician.
However, if lifestyle changes aren't helping, or you have other health conditions that might be tied to high blood pressure (such as a heart condition or thyroid condition), your doctor will likely offer additional medications as well.
High blood pressure is a serious health condition that needs treating, because uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to stroke and heart disease. Likewise, the longer you take high blood pressure medications and don't eat better, drink less alcohol and exercise more, the higher your risk of complications from this condition will become.
Blood Pressure Charts
Blood pressure is expressed in terms of millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). For example, a reading of 120/80 mm Hg means that the systolic pressure is 120 mm Hg and diastolic pressure is 80 mm Hg. The Systolic reading, which is measured in the first number, is the upper pressure, or amount of pressure in the arteries when the heart beats. The Diastolic reading, which is measured in the second number, is the lower pressure, or amount of pressure in the arteries between heart beats.
Blood Pressure Readings
The average normal blood pressure for an adult is about 120/80 mmHg (or 120 over 80). Blood pressures are recorded as systolic over diastolic – that is "120 over 80" means a systolic blood pressure of 120 mm Hg and a diastolic blood pressure of 80 mm Hg.
Hypertension (high blood pressure) usually has no symptoms. If you have been told by your health care provider that you have high blood pressure, ask him or her whether the condition is mild or severe. The way the condition is treated depends on its severity.
Some people with high blood pressure notice no symptoms and need to be screened for this condition. This group is called prehypertensive, because they have higher-than-normal blood pressure but not high enough to be called hypertensive. They are also sometimes labeled as "borderline hypertension" or "high normal blood pressure" (the most common terms).
In this case, the ideal blood pressure would be the same as for a person without hypertension (120/80 mm Hg). However, most people without hypertension can maintain their blood pressure at this level. For example, most people with mild hypertension maintain slightly elevated levels between 125 and 140/85 mmHg.
If you have mild high blood pressure it is important to remember that it is a preventable condition. Many factors can contribute to its development and therefore, you should make an effort to reduce your risk of developing it in the future by making lifestyle changes such as not smoking, being physically active and eating a low-fat diet.
If blood pressure is consistently above the optimum for your age and sex, it is considered severe hypertension. In this case, you will need to reduce your high blood pressure as soon as possible.
This can be done by reducing your salt intake, by taking diuretics (water pills) to lower your blood volume and prevent fluid retention, by giving yourself a low-sodium diet or by taking additional medications that treat the underlying problem causing high blood pressure.
If you have been diagnosed with severe high blood pressure and are having trouble lowering the level of your blood pressure, it is important to start medication right away so that enough time isn't lost in lowering the level of your blood pressure. As soon as your blood pressure starts to persistently decrease, the medications will then act faster to bring this down. If you wait too long, your average blood pressure may return to a higher level before the medications have time to do their job.
Lifestyle Changes for High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can be controlled by making many lifestyle changes, including:
1. Eat a low-fat diet and eat less salt (make sure your diet contains no more than 2.3 grams of salt per day).
2. Eat a low-salt diet and limit consumption of simple carbohydrates, which are refined starches such as white bread, white rice and potatoes that are high in starch and rapidly converted into glucose in the body.
3. Eat a diet that includes complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains and vegetables. Complex carbohydrates provide longer-lasting energy than simple carbohydrates do.
4. Quit smoking and limit your alcohol intake to one drink per day for women and two drinks for men (if you don't drink, abstain). Alcohol increases blood pressure, particularly in people who are not used to drinking it.
5. Engage in regular physical activity to reduce stress while improving your circulation and strengthening your heart muscle, which helps the heart pump more efficiently and lowers blood pressure levels.
6. Manage stress at home, at work and in your relationships with family members through help from a therapist or other professional health care provider if needed.
Data from the National Center for Health Statistics show that two-thirds of adults surveyed consume food from at least one fast food chain, such as McDonald's or Burger King, at least once a week. A recent study found that men who ate the most fast food had a 2.5 times greater chance of developing high blood pressure than did those who ate the least. On average, men consumed 2.5 more fast-food meals per week. Women also consumed more fast food than men, but not by as much as men did; women averaged 1 extra meal per week on top of their regular diets, while men consumed an additional one meal per month on top of their regular diets. The researchers found that the association between fast food and high blood pressure was independent of total calorie intake, body mass index, physical activity levels and other major cardiovascular risk factors. This suggests that there may be other, unidentified mechanisms by which fast food may increase blood pressure risk.
The study was supported by grants from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The lead author was Antony V. Montano of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. The authors reported no conflicts of interest.
Why Fast Food Is Bad for The Heart
Fast food is high in calories, fat and salt, all of which increase the risk of getting high blood pressure. These foods are inexpensive and can be purchased on a daily basis without any thought for their impact on health.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that cigarette smoking among those 16 years of age or older dropped from 14.5% in 2002 to 12.3% in 2005, while at the same time the percentage of people who consumed four or more servings of fast food per week increased from 5.9% in 2002 to 6.2% in 2005.
Fast food has a high salt content, and the sodium can be a source of water loss. This leads to an increase in volume and a subsequent increase in pressure within your blood vessels.
The high volume of sodium, along with other salts and sugars, combine to form blood volume. Drinking water helps to dilute these salts and sugars so that they do not have their effect on blood pressure level.
In addition, fast food also has very little fiber, which also contributes to the development of high blood pressure. When people eat fast food every day, their diets lack all essential nutrients required for proper health such as folate and B vitamins.
These are all of the major risks that are associated with consuming fast food so make sure to limit the amount of fast food you consume.
It is very important that you choose an appropriate diet plan for your blood pressure. Diet alone can affect the level of blood pressure in many ways. Having a busy schedule, lack of physical activity, stress and other factors all can contribute to high blood pressure and need to be taken into consideration when choosing a diet plan.
A deficit in calories can cause physical issues such as headaches, insufficient energy and severe weakness. Having a small amount of additional calories from fast food items could lead to weight gain but it could also lead to weight loss. It is important to not put too much emphasis on getting a specific amount of weight but instead focusing on having a healthy balance in your diet plan.
Making the right dietary choices can help you to feel and be more focused. If you avoid fast food and other foods high in fat, sugar, salt or calories you will find that simpler foods are easier for your body to digest and use up calories. You will also find that eating smaller portions will provide you with enough energy without feeling hungry so that you can stay active without feeling tired.
The first step in creating a diet plan is to decide how much weight you need to lose. You should weigh yourself first thing in the morning or before any physical activity. This will give you an accurate reading of your current weight without the effects of food intake, drinking excess water or sweating.
If you currently have high blood pressure, it is important to reduce your sodium intake and increase your potassium intake. Not only does salt contribute to high blood pressure but it also can lead to hypertension and edema. Potassium helps to reduce levels of sodium in the body and can help reduce water retention which could be contributing factors for high blood pressure.
There are different types of diets and the recommended diet plan is based on your blood pressure level. The first step in creating a diet plan is to have a doctor check your blood pressure level and specifically look at the effects of dietary intake.
How to Reduce Blood Pressure
Reducing sodium intake can help reduce high blood pressure so avoid food or drinks that are high in sodium. Examples include processed, cured meats such as bacon, hot dogs, ham and salami as well as some soups and frozen foods. Limit the amount of cheese you eat every day since it is made with salt and has other ingredients that might add to your blood pressure concerns.
If you do have high blood pressure, losing weight can help you to lower your blood pressure. When you lose weight, your body will use up sodium and water but it will also encourage the body to burn calories. This means that the heart rate and blood pressure are improved which reduces the risk of high blood pressure flare-ups.
It is important to find an exercise schedule that fits into your busy schedule but is not so strenuous that it causes severe exhaustion afterward. Staying out of the sun and avoiding stressful situations can also reduce stress and anxiety which can lead to higher blood pressure levels. If you choose an activity such as swimming it will improve your cardiovascular system as well as provide a healthy distraction from everyday stresses in life.
As you go about creating a diet plan, it is important that you follow a daily routine. This can include waking up at the same time every day and eating meals at the same time each day. Doing this will help you to enjoy your food and not become bored with eating or forgetting about what you are doing in life because of your diet.
If you work out during the day, make sure that it doesn't interfere with your sleep schedule. If you exercise in the evening, try to cap it off with a good night's sleep. Also, never leave watching TV or reading in order to exercise and instead find other activities that have less potential for causing stress like knitting or reading a book.
Dieting is a very important factor in helping to reduce high blood pressure. It is important to create a diet plan but also to follow it so that you can lose weight and improve your health. Keep in mind that it may take some time for the body to adjust to these changes which can lead to fatigue and feeling stressed but this is a very normal part of the diet process.
By keeping these steps in mind, you will be better able to create a diet plan that reduces high blood pressure and helps you live healthier and with less stress. Find what works for you, stick with it and watch as your life improves over time.
How to Lower Blood Pressure
The best way to lower blood pressure is to reduce stress and eat a healthy diet. High stress levels can lead to elevated levels of adrenaline in the system which raise blood pressure. Eating a healthy diet will help you to maintain a healthier weight and will also supply your body with all of the nutrients that it needs for proper functioning.
Avoiding fast food is one of the best ways to reduce your risk for high blood pressure. Fast food has high fat, sugar, salt and calorie content which can all lead to high blood pressure issues. It also has low amounts of vitamins and minerals making them less healthy overall than other types of food choices.
The first step in creating a diet plan is to have your doctor determine whether or not you have high blood pressure. You will also need to find out what your current weight is. Your doctor can help you to determine how much weight you need to lose around your stomach, hips and thighs.
If you are overweight, losing weight will help lower blood pressure. If you already exercise regularly and do not suffer from high blood pressure, adding certain types of exercise might still help reduce your blood pressure even further. Swimming, yoga and dancing are all good examples of low impact exercises that can help to reduce stress and tension in the body which would otherwise contribute to higher levels of blood pressure.
Avoiding too much caffeine can also help to decrease blood pressure levels. Caffeine can raise blood pressure levels by over three to five points in just a few hours. If you consume it before bedtime, it can be even higher than this so make sure that you are not drinking it unless you need it for an energy boost.
If you have high blood pressure, try to have fewer than one drink a day and maybe even less if possible. Drinking alcoholic beverages significantly increases the risk of high blood pressure so avoid them if at all possible. If you need to drink in order to unwind, try taking a walk or going for a swim after your drinking session.
Do not smoke cigarettes . Smoking contributes to high blood pressure with stress and tension as well as increases the risk of atherosclerosis. It also can cause cancer which is another illness that can adversely affect your body and increase the risk for high blood pressure.
Eat healthy foods that are low in sodium. This includes fresh fruit and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains and fish. Cut down on junk food such as fried foods or processed snack items. You can also try eating more tofu or beans which have less sodium than other vegetables and protein sources.
Avoid using salt when you cook at home.
If you have sodium in your diet, try to have a variety of salt sources so that if you use too much at one time, there is still other salt left to use later.
You may also want to do some additional research into chromium supplements which have been shown to reduce high blood pressure. It will take some time for any results from this type of supplement but it can be helpful in reducing high blood pressure levels.
In order to lower your blood pressure, you will need to find healthier ways of coping with stress.
Avoiding stressful situations can help reduce your overall stress load and can help lead you down the path toward better health and a lower risk for high blood pressure. If you cannot avoid a situation, try to think about more positive and productive ways to deal with the stress.
If you do experience high blood pressure, you should seek medical attention right away.
If your blood pressure is not under control or it is getting worse, contact your doctor immediately because this could indicate a health problem which can be dangerous if left untreated. You must also work with your doctor and create a treatment plan that fits into your overall lifestyle in order to see the best results possible.