Thursday, December 22, 2011

How to choose blood pressure monitor

Being one of the leading causes of death, high blood pressure is a medical condition that shouldnt be ignored. Since it has rarely any symptoms, having it measured is the best method to keep it in check. Nowadays, people can have at home blood pressure monitors and measure their blood pressure daily. This is especially important for high blood pressure patients and eldery people.
There are two main types of home monitors. Aneroid monitor, a standard gauge type of monitor that you will see in the doctor's office. Before using it, test aneroid monitor for accuracy. Also, get instructions from your doctor on how to use it. One advantage of aneroid monitor is that the cuff  has already built-in stethoscope. It is also cheaper version than digital monitors which might be an important factor to you. Disadvantages are that it can easily become less accurate and that it is sometimes not suitable for hearing-impaired people because you need to listen to heart beats. Digital monitors are more popular because they are easier to use. Blood pressure results are shown on a screen. Some digital blood pressure monitors offer an option to print out the results. Digital monitors have stethoscope and the cuff together, in one unit. Their use can reduce human error in the measurement and are better solution for people who have trouble with vision or hearing, and those who have difficulty with hands. Digital monitors are expensive, especially compared to prices od aneroid monitors. Some digital monitors are made only for left hand usage, which isn't suitable for some people.
There are also finger/wrist blood pressure monitors which are rarely used. Studies have shown that finger/wrist monitors do not measure blood pressure accurately. They are very sensitive to body temperature and position, and are much more expensive than digital and aneroid monitors.
Before buying blood pressure monitor you should consult your doctor. Having a right cuff size is very important, if your cuff size is wrong your blood pressure reading will be inaccurate.  Before using it the first time, you should check your blood pressure monitor for accurancy. Also, you should keep checking its accurancy once a year. Before measuring your blood pressure dont eat or drink coffee or tea for 30 minutes. Trying sitting relaxed and if you need, empty your bladder before measuring. Cuff should fit you snugly, but you should have enough room to put one finger under the cuff.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Low blood pressure - blessing or illness?

Some physicians say that a low blood pressure is a blessing and not a disease. Considering the global epidemic of hypertension that is silently taking lives by damaging vital organs, this is very close to the truth. Low blood pressure is defined as a blood pressure that is lower than normally expected for a single person in the given conditions and is therefore a very relative term. Blood pressure that is borderline low for one person may be normal for another. Athletes and people who lead a healthy lifestyle often have lowered blood pressure. It can be hard to find the cause of low blood pressure if you do not have a family history of heart problems, you are not diabetic or pregnant, and you are not taking medications which effect blood pressure. In the case of mild disorders drug therapy is not required.
Severe problems with hypotension can occur because of atherosclerosis, heart failure, disturbances in heart rhythm, when taking sedatives, in case of treating hypertension with inappropriate medications or because of overdoses. Sometimes the cause may be unknown, such as colds, recovery from illness or person can have a congenital hypotension. In such cases, you should contact your doctor.
Treatment for hypotension includes minor physical activities (running, cycling, walking) or increasing activity during day (taking stairs instead of an elevator, combining periods of movement with periods of rest). This will stabilize blood circulation and increase the elasticity of blood vessels. Alpha-sympathomimetic drugs can also be given for treating hypotension. They narrow the blood vessels by stimulating alpha-1 receptors. It is not recommended to use alpha-sympathomimetics after 4 p.m. because they may cause sleep disturbances. You can help regulate your blood pressure by drinking a lot of fluids (mineral water)
in order to maintain a stable blood volume, wearing compression stockings to support the flow of the blood from the leg veins back to the heart, avoiding alcohol and combining cold and hot showers. By taking enough vitamins and minerals you can also help relieve the symptoms of hypotension. The most important are vitamin C (preserves the function of blood vessels), vitamin E (ensures optimal supply of oxygen to tissues), and B vitamins, especially vitamin B5. Rich sources of these vitamins are eggs, bananas, oranges, avocados, broccoli, beans, sunflowers, soybeans, meat, milk and wheat germ. Alternative herbal treatments can also help a lot with your low blood pressure. One of them is rosemary ointment applied over the heart to increase blood pressure. Ginger and ginseng are also used to normalize blood pressure.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Tips and tricks to avoid high blood pressure

When you discover that you have hypertension or pre-hypertension, the first thing doctors do, they prescribe medication. However, the right diet can dramatically reduce your blood pressure as well, sometimes so much that you will not need any drugs. Find out what a high blood pressure diet is and how you can easily incorporate it into your lifestyle.
An ideal diet for high blood pressure will be:
  • Low in sodium (salt)
  • Low in saturated fats and cholesterol
  • High in antioxidants and vitamins
  • High in potassium and magnesium

In other words, a diet generally associated with healthy living and a high blood pressure diet has a lot in common. Don't get me wrong, it doesn't mean at all that all you will have to eat from now on is steamed broccoli. For example, the best thing for high blood pressure diet is to go for a baked potato rather than French fries or a chicken sandwich not a hamburger. The most important thing is to limit foods that lead to increasing blood pressure.
Tip 1: Eat more home cooked meals
The easiest way to maintain a diet that will help with high blood pressure control is to prepare meals yourself from fresh products rather than eat prepackaged food. Almost all precooked meals are high in sodium, saturated fat and cholesterol, while low in other important nutrients. Home cooking takes more time of course, but there are plenty of healthy and incredibly tasty recopies that take only 15-20 minutes to cook.
The recommended sodium intake for people with hypertension is less than 3000 mg a day, and an average American consumes 7000 to 9000 mg... A good way to cut down on salt is to stay away from packaged condiments. Would you believe that just one serving of ordinary tomato sauce usually contains about 250 mg of sodium? That will be additional 250 mg, to a meal that already contains salt. The same can be said about most salad dressings. Using a spoon of olive oil instead of bottled salad dressing on your salad will make a great difference.
Tip 2: Select foods high in potassium and magnesium
Now when you know what foods to avoid, let's talk about what foods are beneficial. Most fruits and vegetables are good because they are low in fat, cholesterol and sodium (that is unless you add salt to them, of course). But the most beneficial veggies and fruits are the ones that are high in magnesium and potassium. Both minerals have been proved to reduce blood pressure.
Best foods for potassium are:

  • Apricots
  • Sultanas and Raisins
  • All Bran
  • Figs
  • Dried mixed fruit
  • Most Seeds and nuts average (unsalted)
  • Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Avocados
  • Bananas

For magnesium look at:

  • Black Beans
  • Broccoli
  • Peanuts
  • Oysters
  • Scallops
  • Soy milk
  • Spinach
  • Whole grain cereal
  • Whole wheat bread

Tip 3: Consult a physician for best high blood pressure diet
Everybody should follow general food recommendations to lower you blood pressure. However, there might be specific foods that you in particular should avoid or add to your diet. The reason is that as most people, you may have not only high blood pressure, but other health problems and your diet should address them all.
Also if you are overweight, that can greatly affect your blood pressure. The first thing you doctor will suggest is to choose a diet that will help you lose weight. While if your weight is normal, your diet will be different.
Tip 4: Choose diet to prevent high blood pressure
As they say, to prevent is always better than to cure, so even if you don't have any problems with blood pressure, it is a good idea to follow high blood pressure diet. Many studies have shown that hypertension is hereditary, so you should be particularly careful if your parents suffer from high blood pressure.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Hypertension - silent killer

When we are talking about high blood pressure, it is important to clarify its importance for human health. Called a "silent killer", most often it has no symptoms for years and it is deadly because it damages vital organs and their function. High blood pressure can cause heart attacks, strokes, kidney failures, and even blindness.
If your blood pressure is 140/90 mmHg or higher, you have high blood pressure. If it is between the values of 120/80 mmHg and 139/89 mmHg, you have a prehypertension and if you dont make life style changes you will most likely develop a high blood pressure.
Most people don't think about high blood pressure until it is already too late and they need medications. If you are one of those people, you are not to blame. In order to take this global epidemic seriously in your own life, you need to understand some things about high blood pressure. First thing you probably want to know about high blood pressure is why it is so dangerous.
High blood pressure is dangerous because it makes the heart work too hard. And if this goes on for a long time, it can cause a damage to a heart muscle. It also makes artery walls harder.

High blood pressure can damage your arteries inner lining, which causes hardening of the arteries (medical term is arteriosclerosis). Fats, including cholesterol, passing through the blood collect on the damaged cells to start atherosclerosis.  When fat hardening of artery walls gets bigger it can block blood flow to any organ of the body, including heart, brain, kidneys, arm or legs. This can lead to many problems, including heart attack, heart failure, chest pain (angina), stroke, eye damage, blocked arteries in legs or arms.
High blood pressure, regardless of the cause, is divided into primary (essential) and secondary hypertension.
The most often (95%) the cause of hypertension is unknown, in this case we are talking about the primary or essential hypertension. The remaining 5% cases of high blood pressure is a secondary hypertension, i.e. high blood pressure as a result of some other diseases or disorders in the body. The most common causes of secondary hypertension are kidney diseases (narrowing of the renal artery, inflammation of kidneytissue or renal tubules, tumors, cysts in the kidneys, kidney damage due to diabetes), hormonal disorders (Cushing's syndrome, adrenal gland tumor), medications (oral contraceptives, immunosuppressive drugs, overuse of alcohol, cocaine and antidepressants), acute lead poisoning and some others.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Basic things you need to know about blood pressure

There are two important blood pressure levels in a human body – a maximum or systolic blood pressure, the pressure in the moment of heart beat, when blood is ejected into aorta, and minimum or diastolic blood pressure when heart muscule is relaxing and ventricules are getting filled with „new“ blood. Normal levels of sysolic and diastolic blood pressures are 120 mm Hg and 80 mm Hg, usually expressed as 120/80 mm Hg, or 120 above 80. Blood level shouldnt be much higher than 120/80 mm Hg.
Blood pressure, the same as any pressure in physics, is a force that blood is creating on walls of blood vessels. It is usually expressed in milimeters of mercury, previously mentioned as mm Hg, and sometimes in medicine in kPa. In a common language using „mm Hg“ scale is widely spread.
Levels of blood pressure are usually the same during the day, and they shouldnt change much. In morning, and while a sleep, blood pressure is usually lower.
Body controls pressure with a heart rate – when heart rate increases, pressure rises, and when heart rate decreases blood pressure falls. BP is also controled with stroke volume or the amount of blood heart ejects in one heartbeat, which depends on different hormones, drugs, blood volume in general, phsyical state – while in rest the stroke volume is less than while being physically active. Third major way that BP is controled is by controling the resistance of a blood flow in a body.  It is easier for a blood to flow through flexible and wider than through hardened and narrow arteries. Body controls resistance level by hormones, nervous system stimulation (caffeine, stress etc.), various diseases.

Hormones system renin-angiotensin-aldosterone (RAAS) play a big role in BP control by regulating the width of the arteries, the amount of fluid in the blood, and the sodium and water concentrations by their influence on the kidneys and blood vessels.
The kidneys play the most important role in a long term blood pressure control by regulating the amount of water and sodium, they excrete extra water or when there is water sufficiency in an organism they reabsorb the water making the blood volume bigger which directly creates bigger blood pressure.