Monday, November 28, 2011

What is high blood pressure?

High blood pressure is the pressure in the arteries that is higher than normal. It is usually without symptoms and can go unnoticed for a long time, which increases the risk of heart failure, heart attack, stroke, kidney damage and damage of the retina . Hypertension means high blood pressure, regardless of the cause, and it is divided into primary (essential) and secondary hypertension. Hypertension is called the „silent killer“ because it doesnt cause any problems for years and damages vital organs and their function. Blood pressure naturally varies in different periods of life and even during the day. Children and adolescents have significantly lower pressure than adults. For most people, pressure is the highest in the morning and lowest at night during sleep.
In order to know what is high blood pressure, you need to understand the various damages it causes to vital organs. Untreated hypertension increases the risk of coronary heart disease and is a major factor for stroke. Hypertension is also one of the three most important causes of myocardial infarction. When it  is untreated for many years or inadequately treated it causes the thickening (hypertrophy) of the heart muscle. The blood vessels that supply the heart with oxygen and nutrients are located on the outer side of the heart muscle. When the thickening of the heart muscle becomes too big, heart blood vessels can not supply its deepest parts with enough blood. Eventually, that causes a heart attack. If the person also smokes, has elevated fat or sugar in the blood chances for heart attack multiply. After the thickening of the heart muscle, enlargement of the left ventricle develops. Due to its enlargement, blood returns to the left atrium and then into the lungs. This causes the development of pulmonary edema, which can lead to death if not intervened.  Primary (essential) hypertension can not be cured, as opposed to a secondary that can be cured by removing the causes that led to hypertension (eg, adrenal tumor). Everyone diagnosed with primary hypertension (unknown cause) should know that there is no cure and the treatment will be lengthy, and for life. Many patients are taking treatment for lowering pressure only when they „feel“ that they have hypertension. This is completely wrong way to take medications. Often they do it because they arent informed well on what is high blood pressure. Medications prescribed for lowering blood pressure should be taken regularly, preferably at the same time of day. Patients should also measure and record blood pressure a few times a week, in different periods of the day.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Keeping your blood pressure normal

Maintaining a normal blood pressure is one of the best ways to take care of your health and your future. Prevention of blood pressure disorders is crucial factor for your life expectancy. Normal blood pressure is considered 120/80 mmHg, read as „120 above 80“.  The values tell you the pressure that creates in aorta, a main blood vessel in the body, in the moment of heart beat (120mmHg) and while heart muscle relaxes (80 mmHg). Some people have naturally lower or higher blood pressure so some variations are expected and normal. Blood pressure above 140/90 mmHg is considered a high blood pressure.
There is a genetical factor for having higher or lower blood pressure, but it also vastly depends on your life style. Factors as life style can be easily be influenced so it is important to pay attention to them. Sedentary life style is definately one of the big factors. Human body needs regular physical activity to maintain homeostasis, an optimal functioning. If you are already not physically active, include 30 minutes activity in your daily routine. You can start with taking stairs instead of an elevator, walking to job, washing your car alone. Diet is especially important. Risk of high blood pressure is much greater in overweight or obese patients. The best way too know weather you have to lose weight is your waisline. Men with waistline over 40 inches and women over 35 inches need to lose weight. Mediterranean diet is natural for people who live in Mediterranean, Spain, Italy and Greece. Studies have shown that people there have naturally lower blood pressure than in the rest of the world due to  eating habits. Following Mediterranean diet is easy. Replace saturated fats like butter with olive oil, eat meats and poultry only once or twice a week. Red wine, traditionally included in Mediterranean diet, is considered beneficial for health because it includes flavonoids with antioxidant properties. You can enjoy one glass of red wine after launch. All kinds of fresh fruits and vegetables, seafood, yogurt and cheeses, any kind of beans, all nuts and seeds and unrefined cereals are all typical ingredients of Mediterranean diet. It is possible to gain weight on this diet so if you are prone to gaining weight you should avoid it or pay extra attention that the servings are small.
Some other important ways to keep normal blood pressure are avoiding smoking, low intake of caffeinated beverages, enough of sleep and rest and enough of vitamins.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

High blood pressure rings your bell maybe?

High blood pressure, called hypertension, is a major risk factor for a stroke, heart failure, kidney failure and heart attack. It is often called a “silent killer” because it is deadly and can have no symptoms or only vague symptoms. The consequences of having a high blood pressure are unfortunately often seen after it is already too late. When your blood pressure is higher than 140/90 mmHg that is considered hypertension. If your blood pressure is above 120/80 and lower than 140/90 you have a prehypertension, which is a warning sign for you to adopt a healthier life style and visit your physician. 85% of people older than the age of 65 have hypertension.
Having a risk factors for a high blood pressure should be an alarm for you to take an action. Fortunately, all risk factors can be mitigated with a little of effort.
Weight is a major risk factors. Being overweight increases blood pressure, so it is recommended to lose weight in order to reduce or prevent hypertension. You should keep check of your waist line too. Abdominal fat is even more important than weight because it shows more precisely amount of fat in the body. Waist line over 35 inches in women and 40 inches in men is considered too high. Being physically inactive makes your blood pressure higher as well. Moderate physical activity for 30 minutes a day like gardening, walking, bicycling should be enough to keep your blood pressure in check. You can use the stairs instead of an elevator, or park your car 5 minutes away of your house to walk a little. Washing and waxing your car is a great physical activity, and also saves you some money.
Having a diabetes, abnormal cholesterol, or using tobacco are also risk factors for high blood pressure, so you need to try to control those diseases by following your doctor's instructions.
Controlling what you eat is probably the most important part of lowering your blood pressure. In the era of fast food it is really hard for most of us to eat healthy. There is an eating plan developed specifically to prevent high blood pressure called DASH („Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension“). The DASH eating plan includes poultry, fish, whole grains and nuts, and has low
quantities of  red meat, fats, sweets and sugared beverages. DASH is also high in calcium, potassium, magnesium, fiber and protein. It is also very important to eat food lower in salt and sodium. The recommended dose of sodium is 1400 mg to 2400 mg daily, which is up to 1 tablespoon of salt.
You should switch to a DASH eating plan gradually, by adding fruits, grains and vegetable serving to meals, using only half of the butter or margarine, taking enzymes if you have problems with digesting food, spreading out the servings. You can control what you eat by keeping a food diary. You can make a habit of it, and it may be fun to go back and see how your eating habits have changed and how much progress you have made.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What do you know about blood pressure?

Knowing about blood pressure is important in order to take care of yours and yours family health. Blood pressure is a force of blood against the artery walls while passing throughout the blood vessels. It ranges from 120 mmHg (13 kPa) in the moment of heart beat in aorta, to almost 4 kPa in small capillaires and 2 kPa in veins.
Blood pressure is always given as the systolic and diastolic pressures. Both are important. They are usually written one above or before the other, such as 120/80 mmHg.
Another very important fact you should know about blood pressure is that only way to know for sure your blood pressure level is by measuring it. High blood pressure often has no symptoms or only vague symptoms, but it can be deadly. This is why measuring your blood pressure regularly is very important.  Your blood pressure is influenced by the time of day. For most people the highest blood pressure occurs about noon and the lowest in the early morning, around 3-4 AM. Some people, called "non-dippers", dont have a morning dip and for them the highest blood pressure is usually around 6 AM to 9 AM in the morning. Some physicians make vast assumptions because they are not aware of this. A non-dipper may have 150/90 in the morning, and 135/85 in the evening. Such phenomenon is usually associated with heavy snoring, sleep apnea, drug and alcohol abuse. Advices to check your blood pressure once a year is insufficient. You should check your blood pressure far more often because, as already said, the value is influenced by the time of day, exercise, food etc. You can have high blood pressure but if you are measuring after excercise and in the morning, get a low value and misdiagnose. Thing you should also be aware about blood pressure is „white coat syndrome“. Some people are tense in the doctor's office and get higher blood pressure readings. When they leave the doctor's office, their blood pressure returns to normal. Unfortunatelly, not rarely they are prescribed with drugs for high blood pressure, even though they don't suffer from it. This is another good reason to use home monitors because you can keep track how your own body is responding to daily changes.
Although symptoms of high blood pressure are usually vague or even nonexistent, if you notice headaches, blurred vision, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath and chest pain you should take this as a possible warning sign  and contact your doctor. Most people don't discover their high blood pressure until they already have organ damages.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Blood pressure monitors - what do you need to know

High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of death. Because it has often no symptoms or only vague symptoms the only way to know your blood pressure level for sure is by measuring it. Blood preasure monitors offer a quick and easy way for measuring blood pressure. This is why it is vital that we all have our blood pressure measured regularly and the easiest way to do it nowadays is in our own home, using blood pressure monitor. Some studies even suggest that the blood pressure value you get by measuring it at home is more precise than the one you get in your doctor's office. The reason for this is excitment some people feel while in the doctor's office which causes the increase of their blood pressure.
Before using any kind of blood pressure monitor, it is recommended to talk to your doctor who will give you instructions on how to use it and how to check its accuracy. You shouldn’t drink alcohol or caffeinated beverages (coffee, tea) 30 minutes before measuring. Take a rest for 5 minutes before measuring, do not talk or cross your ankles. Place your hand in the level of the heart on the table and rest. The appropriate cuff size is of crucial importance for accurate measurement of blood pressure. Cuff width must correspond to the 2/3 length from elbow to shoulder, and its length must be sufficient to embrace 80% of the upper arm. If you buy a pressure gauge with a deficient cuff, you get a false high-pressure values​​. Appropriate cuff size is especially important in obese patients.
If the measured value is unexpectedly high, take a little rest and repeat the measurement. Consider the lower measure you get as the official blood pressure value. There are two types of blood pressure monitors for home use, aneroid monitor and a digital monitor.

The gauge at the aneroid monitor is read by looking at a pointer on a dial. The cuff, placed around your upper arm, is inflated by squeezing a bulb with your hand. Digital monitors can have either automatic or manual cuffs. The blood pressure value is shown on a small screen.
Keeping an accurate record of your blood pressure values during the day is very important. This way your doctor gets informations about what types of food, activities  or medications effect your blood pressure the most. Many digital monitors have memory facilities so you can keep a record of your blood pressure values and even print these out or load them into your computer.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Low blood pressure - how to treat it

It is hard to define low blood pressure because sometimes it occurs naturally in people who are phsyically active, eat a healthy diet and maintain a normal weight. When defining hypotension many experts use the criteria of 90 mmHg and below for systolic, and 60 mmHg and below for diastolic blood pressure. But in some cases, especially in eldery people, low blood pressure may be a sign of life-threatening illness including dehydration, severe infection with septic shock, hormonal conditions, some heart diseases and can be caused by taking certain medication. Hypotension can  also cause an inadequate blood flow to the brain, heart and other vital organs.
The cause of a low blood pressure can be associated with pregnancy, an overdose of high blood pressure drugs, heart failure and abnormal heart rhythms, hormonal problems such as an underactive thyroid, overactive thryoid, diabetes or hypoglicemia. Even though low blood pressure is rarely a serious condition, sudden drops in blood pressure can be dangerous. This type of low blood pressure is caused by low or high body temperature, loss of blood from bleeding, heart failure, a severe blood infection (sepsis), severe dehydratation (from vomiting, fever or diarrhea), a reaction to alcohol or medication and allergic reactions.
One form of low blood pressure is orthostatic hypotension. It is a result of a sudden change in body position, usually from sitting or lying to standing. It lasts only a few seconds or minutes. It mostly effects those with high blood pressure, eldery people and people with Parkinson's disease. Symptoms of a low blood pressure may include confusion, dizziness, fainting, sleepiness, weakness and a blurry vision. Treatment of hypotension is not requiered if a person is healthy and does not have any problems. If you have some symptoms of hypotension you may avoid alcohol and standing for a long time. You should also drink enough of fluids and get up slowly after sitting or lying down. In order to get your blood pressure under control and avoid the symptoms of a low blood pressure you may change your diet. Focus on eating a variety of foods, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, lean chicken and fish. You should also increase your salt and caffeine (such as coffee, tea and soda) intake and eat low-carb meals. If you dont like using a lot of salt you can replace it with soy sauce or dry soup mixes.