What Causes High Blood Pressure?

Although no one knows for sure what causes high blood pressure, some groups of the population are more likely to get high blood pressure than others.

For some of the factors you can’t do much about belonging to a risk group other than making sure you have your blood pressure checked regularly but there are also some areas you can control. The factors affecting blood pressure are

Race

Black-Africans, African-Caribbean people living in Europe and African-Americans have a higher risk of getting high blood pressure than other races.

Age

Our blood pressure rises as we get older.

Sex

Women are at greater risk than men if they take the oral contraceptive pill or HRT and the risks of high blood pressure rise in pregnancy.

Family History

You may inherit a tendency to get high blood pressure from either or both of your parents. If one of your parents has high blood pressure your risk doubles.

Obesity

The more overweight you are the harder your heart has to work to pump blood around your body.

Diet

Lots of research is still going on in this area but diets which are high in saturated fat and salt and low in calcium, magnesium and phosphorus have been linked to blood pressure problems.

Stress

If your blood pressure tends to become very high in stressful situations, you are more likely to develop problems with high blood pressure.

Smoking

Smoking causes narrowing of the arteries and blood pressure has to rise to ensure a steady flow of blood around the body.

Medical Conditions

Some illnesses lead to high blood pressure including a number of kidney conditions and some hormonal disorders

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

High Blood Pressure (or Hypertension) is very common in the Western World with 61 million people in the US and 15 million people in Britain suffering from the condition. Only half of the people suffering from the problem are aware of it.

There is no absolute measure which means your blood pressure is high, because blood pressure varies in each individual depending on their activities and emotional state. So blood pressure generally needs to be taken over a few days (or after resting for a few hours) to get an accurate picture.

In some cases actually having your blood pressure taken at the doctor’s surgery can cause your blood pressure to shoot up. If this is the case with you may be asked to monitor your own blood pressure over several days at home.

In people under 40, blood pressure of or over 140/90 for a few days is considered high. Over 40 and your blood pressure is considered high at 160/95. But this may vary depending on any medical conditions you have.

The odd high reading does not mean you have high blood pressure. So doctors usually take readings over several weeks before deciding to diagnose and treat you.

Both systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings are important in determining whether you need treatment. The first figure (systolic reading) shows how your heart is working and may predict the likelihood of heart disease. The second and lower figure (diastolic reading) shows how much pressure there is even when your heart is at rest and may indicate whether your arteries have narrowed.

For more information on high blood pressure see

How is Blood Pressure Measured?

sphygnomanometerThere are many different devices available for measuring blood pressure but the most common is the one you’ll normally find at your doctor’s surgery – called a sphygnomanometer.

This has a cuff which you place around your arm and as pressure in the cuff is increased a column of mercury in the measurement part of the device rises. The doctor or nurse pumps up the cuff so it is tight around you arm, then listens to your pulse using a stethoscope over the brachial artery in your arm and reads the level of the mercury at the point when your heart contracts to push blood through your body and the point where it relaxes. These correspond to the two readings you get when you have your blood pressure measured in your arm.

Systolic Pressure

This is the highest pressure which is registered as your heart contracts and pushes blood into your arteries.

Diastolic Pressure

When your heart relaxes and fills with blood, the pressure in your arteries then falls and this is known as the diastolic pressure.

Your blood pressure is always given as a systolic and diastolic pressure number, and both are an important measurement. They are always written one above or before the other number, such as 120/80 (which is a classic measurement), and always expressed in units of millimeters of mercury (mmHg).

The systolic pressure is the first or top number, and the diastolic pressure is the second or bottom number (for example, 130/90), so if your blood pressure is 120/80, it is a reading of “120 over 80″.

What is a healthy blood pressure reading?

There are no hard and fast figures which represent a normal blood pressure. And very often doctors and other experts cannot even decide between them what an ideal blood pressure range is for an adult.

However it is usually agreed that somewhere between 120/80 and 140/85 is considered to be an average normal blood pressure for a grown person, though someone with naturally low blood pressure may be closer to a range of 100/60

A blood pressure of 140/90 is considered to be high, though as you get older, this falls into the more normal range.

How often should blood pressure be measured?

As often as your doctor advises. Having you blood pressure taken is a non-invasive procedure so it does no harm to take it regularly. Up to 35, if no other health problems (for example, obesity, diabetes or kidney problems) are present your doctor might only suggest taking your blood pressure every 5 years or so. Over 35, blood pressure should be taken every 2 to 5 years in a healthy individual. However women taking the contraceptive pill or HRT should be measured every 6 months and blood pressure should be taken at every antenatal visit in pregnancy.

What Controls Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is controlled by

a) the elasticity of the arteries

The walls of the arteries are stretched each time the heart contracts and pumps blood into them and they rebound each time the heart relaxes. This elasticity keeps the blood flowing around the body between beats of the heart.

b) the flow of blood

The flow of blood adapts to meet changing bodily needs and we may give different blood pressure readings in different conditions. If we have eaten a large meal the arteries supplying the stomach and intestines with blood are dilated to provide extra supplies while arteries in other areas of the body automatically narrow. If we are stressed or frightened, the arteries serving the skin and limbs are dilated due to the action of the stress hormone adrenaline. If we take exercise the flow of blood increases up to five times the normal rate to accommodate our needs.

c) resistance to the flow of blood

If the arteries (and smaller blood vessels leading from them called arterioles) become narrow for any reason, resistance to the flow of blood becomes greater. Yet the heart continues to pump blood through the body at the same rate – it just has to work harder and increase blood pressure to drive the blood through narrower channels.

What is Blood Pressure?

Your heart is a hard working muscle which works like a pump to send blood around your body through a complex network of arteries and capillaries and back via your veins.

A lot of force is required with each contraction of the heart muscle (or heart beat) to pump the blood out of your heart, through your lungs where it picks up oxygen and all round your body. A single blood cell can do a full journey through your body, from your heart and back in about 45 seconds, although this might take 50 or 60 beats of your heart.

As blood is pumped through the arteries they stretch a little to accommodate the flow of blood. Your blood pressure is the force of this blood in your body pushing against the walls of your arteries as your heart is pumping.

blood circulation

Why do we need blood pressure?

Blood pressure is vital to your circulation.

Your blood needs to move around the whole of your body and reach every part of it, but especially your brain.Your brain needs 750ml of oxygenated blood a minute, 24 hours a day whatever you are doing. If you don’t get enough blood to your brain you feel faint. If your heart stops beating (as in a cardiac arrest) your blood pressure drops to zero and your brain receives no blood at all – this can cause lasting brain damage or death within a few minutes.

Blood Pressure Questions

Any questions about blood pressure?Here you’ll find the answers to common questions about blood pressure. If you have a general question about blood pressure you can contact us here and we’ll see what we can do to provide an answer. But remember to always talk to your doctor if you have any specific questions or concerns about your own health as only your doctor can provide diagnosis and treatment.

How do the Pill and HRT affect blood pressure?
The Pill and HRT need to have their blood pressure monitored more regularly. Why is that?

Why does blood pressure rise with age?
Blood pressure often rises with age and your doctor will want to monitor your blood pressure more regularly as you get older.

Do stress and anxiety cause high blood pressure?
Stress and anxiety are well-known to cause high blood pressure but is that actually the case?

Why is blood pressure monitored so closely in pregnancy?
Blood pressure is taken at every ante natal appointment but why is that? And what happens to blood pressure while you are pregnant?

How safe is exercise for people with high blood pressure?
Exercise is safe for most people with high blood pressure but there are particular types of exercises which are best avoided.

5 Steps You Can Take Today To Lower Blood Pressure Naturally

Some of the things you can do (after discussing with your doctor!) to lower your blood pressure without resorting to medication

5 Steps You Can Take Today To Lower Blood Pressure Naturally
by Frank Mangano

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is not something to be taken lightly. It is a serious disease, the cause of which is unknown. One fact health care professionals do know is that left untreated, high blood pressure over time can lead to serious heart disease and other vascular troubles, even death.

Blood pressure medications come in a wide range of formulas and dosages; each aimed at reducing the pressure going through the blood vessels either as the heart pumps blood or relaxes. Some medications strengthen the blood vessels while others thin the blood in an effort to reduce the strain. Trial and error is usually a doctor’s only course of action when determining which combination of drugs and treatments will benefit a specific patient. The problem with this approach is the dangerous side effects, which often accompany these medications.

There is however some good news about hypertension! There are steps you can take today that will begin to lower your blood pressure almost immediately. Overtime, the result is a sustained healthy blood pressure reading that supports your blood vessels and heart for years to come.

Start with these 5 easy lifestyle changes. Always consult with your doctor before trying anything new with your health regime, and never go off of any medication without the advice of your doctor.

Here is a list that any doctor can approve of:

1. Drink Water. Yes, water is a way to cleanse and refresh every part of the body, even your blood vessels. Drink 8-10 glasses each day to flush out excess salt and toxins that make their way into the blood stream. You can use water to replace some drinks containing caffeine that temporarily raise blood pressure.

2. Stop Smoking. If you are a long time smoker, you know how it affects your breathing. What you may not realize is its impact on
your blood pressure. If you can’t quit completely, then cut down. Even a 50% reduction in the number of cigarettes smoked each week can help.

3. Exercise. A cardiovascular workout strengthens the heart. This is important because high blood pressure over time puts added strain on the heart. Just 20 minutes, 3 times per week of a sustained increase in heart rate will aid in lowering blood pressure.

4. Eat Right. If you are eating better and exercising, a nice by-product will be weight loss. By reducing your weight by 10%, you can significantly lower blood pressure. A diet that includes the freshest fruits and vegetables will support healthy blood pressure. Reduce or eliminate salt intake, and especially beware of “hidden” sodium found abundantly in pre-packaged convenience foods.

5. Relax. Many people have a temporary raise in blood pressure when they are under stress. If you have high blood pressure because you are over weight or have a family history of hypertension, then stress raises it that much more. Try taking a walk, meditating or listening to relaxing music to take the edge off a stressful day. Make time for decompressing each and every day.

This article is based on the book, “The Blood Pressure Miracle” by Frank Mangano. Frank is an active member of his community who works diligently providing assistance to senior citizens and probing as a health advocate to discover new and innovative ways to promote well being. Find out how you can maintain healthy blood pressure at: The Blood Pressure Miracle

See also 30 Ways to Lower Blood Pressure Naturally

30 Ways To Lower Blood Pressure Naturally

Potassium and Its Benefits to the Human Body

It has been recognized that those with high blood pressure need to boost levels of potassium in their diet. This article explains the role of potassium on our health.

Potassium and Its Benefits to the Human Body
By Charlene J. Nuble

Potassium is a mineral that serves a variety of purposes within the body. Despite its importance to so many of the body’s functions and systems, most people do not consume the standard recommended daily levels of this essential mineral. This is unfortunate as long-term deficiency can contribute to and even directly cause a variety of health problems and complications not only to the body but to one’s lifestyle as well.

Helping to regulate the body’s fluid levels is one of the mineral potassium’s greatest functions. Not only that but it also has a great part in regulating the blood pressure. It also helps to keep the heart thumping steadily and regularly and is also essential to the nervous system. Potassium works to promote the proper functioning of the tissue that makes up the nervous system. It also serves to enhance muscle control plus the growth and health of cells particularly through its importance in waste product removal. This mineral is also vital to the kidneys in their waste removal tasks. Potassium also plays an important role to mental function as well as to physical processes. It helps to promote efficient cognitive functioning by playing a significant role in getting oxygen to the brain.

Failing to meet the standard recommended daily intake levels can lead to a variety of negative consequences for both physical well being and mental health. Physical symptoms can include muscular cramps and twitching, muscular weakness, even actual muscle damage, poor reflexes, fatigue, fragile bones, irregular heartbeat and other cardiovascular irregularities, kidney failure, lung failure, and cardiac arrest. Mental symptoms can include nervous disorders of various types, anorexia, insomnia, a slowdown of cognitive processes, and depression.

There are certain health situations that can make a person more susceptible to suffering from a deficiency of potassium. These include alcoholism, health conditions requiring the use of certain types of diuretics, periods of high stress and illnesses or conditions that result in extended periods of diarrhea and vomiting. Some situations of our own making can contribute to potassium deficiency. These include excessive caffeine intake and a diet made up of mostly processed foods. Consuming excessive amount of salt daily can also attribute to the decrease of potassium in the human body.

Our bodies are complex systems in which there is a delicate chemical balance that keeps everything functioning as it should. Disruptions to the system are going to have consequences with some being more severe than others. Some of these consequences can take the form of disease or irreversible damage. Prevention is always better than trying to cure illness or repair damage. One of the most important parts of prevention is good nutrition. Making sure that you regularly consume the standard recommended daily intake levels of the vitamins, mineral and other nutrients your body needs is the first vital step in keeping a healthy physic and mind.

But because of today’s lifestyle and diet, it is very hard therefore to intake the proper daily amount of potassium necessary for a normal life. For this concern, nutritional supplements are the solution. They offer an efficient and reliable means of meeting not only our daily potassium needs but also other daily dietary requirements need by the system. Because the balance of nutrients is so important to achieving the optimum standards of performance and health, you may want to consider setting up a consultation with either a licensed nutritionist or your health care provider to create a personalized supplement plan; one that will be best suited to your individual dietary need and health goals.

About The Author

Copyright Charlene J. Nuble 2005