Blood pressure is the measure of force with which blood pushes on the walls of blood vessels. It is one of the main vital signs medical experts observe, alongside pulse rate, respiratory rate, and body temperature. Various health problems, some of which are severe, can arise when blood pressure levels rise too high.
What is abnormal blood pressure and what causes it? This article will answer these questions and discuss the ways to treat this problem. You will also find the explanations of blood pressure readings and the values which doctors consider normal or abnormal.
Disorders Caused by Abnormal Blood Pressure
The endocrine and nervous systems regulate the blood pressure fluctuations which can happen due to physical activity, stress, digestion, and even some emotional reactions.
Many mechanisms in our bodies control how blood pressure fluctuates. Your blood pressure can rise due to the changes in the volume of blood in the bloodstream, the amount of blood the heart pumps into the arteries, and the diameter of blood vessels.
Blood pressure disorders occur when a disease causes blood pressure abnormalities. Whether the blood pressure stays too low, high, or unstable, consequences can be grave if not treated on time.
Elevated Blood Pressure
Elevated blood pressure is just slightly above normal blood pressure. It falls into the range of blood pressure readings from 120 to 129 systolic and below 80 mm Hg diastolic. Unless they take some precautions, people with elevated blood pressure often end up developing high blood pressure.
The steps you can take to change your lifestyle and stop blood pressure from rising are very simple. They include exercise, be it jogging or some sport, as well as improving your diet by cutting down on fats and carbs and eating more vegetables.
Hypertension or high blood pressure can be very dangerous. It forces your heart to work harder while pumping blood into blood vessels, which carry the blood throughout the body.
By making the heart work harder to pump blood out to the body, hypertension contributes to the hardening of the arteries, also known as atherosclerosis. Furthermore, hypertension can also contribute to stroke, kidney disease, and heart failure. If you do not treat it, hypertension may cause damage to your vital organs.
Here are the stages of high blood pressure, from least to most critical:
Hypertension stage 1 is determined by a constant blood pressure range of 130 to 139 systolic and 80 to 89 mm Hg diastolic. Doctors usually only recommend lifestyle changes at this stage of hypertension. However, if you are at risk of ASVD, which is short for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, they might add blood pressure medication just to be sure.
Stage 2 of hypertension begins when a person’s blood pressure reaches 140/90 mm Hg or higher. Doctors are going to prescribe blood pressure medication and suggest some lifestyle changes at this stage.
Hypertensive crisis is the most dangerous stage of high blood pressure, and as such requires medical attention. If you get blood pressure readings exceeding 180/120 mm Hg, wait a while and then repeat the test. If your blood pressure is still too high, get in touch with your doctor right away.
At this stage, you might also experience signs such as blurry vision, back pain, fatigue, speech difficulty, chest pain, and shortness of breath. If you notice these accompanying symptoms, call 911 immediately.
Factors that contribute to chronic high blood pressure can include the following:
- Kidney disorders
- Hormone disorders
- Excessive use of salt
- Drinking alcohol in high amounts
Sometimes you can get hypertension even if none of the things listed above apply to you.
How to Treat Hypertension
To treat elevated blood pressure or stage 1 hypertension, doctors suggest eating a healthy diet with lots of fruit and vegetables and reducing the use of alcohol and salt. Regular exercise is also important, as is losing weight for patients who are overweight.
People usually focus on high blood pressure and how it affects you, but low blood pressure or hypotension is just as dangerous. A blood pressure of 90/60 mm Hg is considered the upper limit, and everything below is considered low blood pressure.
Possible symptoms associated with hypotension include:
- Nausea, fainting, or dizziness
- Vision impairment
- Shortness of breath
Chronic hypotension leads to heart and brain damage due to the lack of oxygen.
The range of contributing factors to hypotension is very extensive and includes the following:
- Diets that lack important nutrients
- Endocrine problems
- Heart problems
- Eating disorders
- Some medication
Hypotension is usually the result of some other underlying health problem. Unsurprisingly, low blood pressure is treated with known methods to raise blood pressure. These include hydration, an increased intake of sodium, and prescription medications such as midodrine or fludrocortisone.
How to Better Understand Blood Pressure Readings
Now that you know more about what is abnormal blood pressure, the only thing left for you to learn is what all the values mean so you can keep track of your blood pressure.
- The first number is systolic blood pressure and it shows as your heart beats the amount of pressure blood is exerting against the blood vessel walls.
- The second number is diastolic blood pressure and it indicates how much pressure, while the heart rests between two beats, blood is exerting against artery walls.
- The abbreviation mm Hg means millimeters of mercury. Mercury was used in the first accurate pressure gauges and is still used in medicine today as the standard unit of pressure.
Final Thoughts on Abnormal Blood Pressure
Whether you have low, elevated, or high blood pressure, it is important to keep track of it and not allow the situation to get worse. Stay healthy, work out regularly, and take care of yourself.
With age, problems caused by irregular blood pressure get harder to treat. Like all other health problems that can be avoided, it is better to prevent abnormal blood pressure than to have to treat it afterward.