Ghost hunting teams attempt to prove the existence of invisible beings by collecting other visible clues and evidence. High blood pressure and hypertension are called silent killers, or invisible diseases that cause lasting damage. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a visible clue or test to help identify these diseases and prevent them from doing damage? And wouldn’t it be nice if it was as easy as a regular doctor’s visit? Well, it is, blood pressure tests are quick, easy, and potentially life-saving.
Understanding Blood Pressure
Ask any good ghost hunter—you can’t take control of something if you don’t know what you’re dealing with. Knowing how to read the numbers associated with blood pressure will help you understand where you fall on the scale. The most accurate blood pressure measurements are obtained from the left arm while sitting down in a quiet, relaxing place. When reading your blood pressure results, there are two important numbers. The top number, called systolic blood pressure, measures the highest pressure produced by your heartbeats as they push blood through the body. Diastolic blood pressure is the bottom number, and it measures the lowest pressure produced while your heart is at rest between beats. Together these numbers give a total picture of how well your heart is working by evaluating how much pressure it takes to move the blood. A normal blood pressure is a systolic measure of 120 or less and a diastolic number of 80 or less. If the systolic reading falls between 120-129, even if the diastolic number is normal, that is considered elevated blood pressure. A systolic blood pressure of 180 or higher and/or a diastolic blood pressure of 120 or higher is a hypertension crisis and cause for serious concern. This measurement requires immediate attention by your doctor.
Effects of High Blood Pressure
The danger of high blood pressure lies mainly in the fact that it slowly damages the body over time without any noticeable symptoms. For this reason, regular checkups where your blood pressure is measured are very important. High blood pressure can cause a number of problems in the body including heart failure and stroke. Half of people with untreated high blood pressure die of heart disease, and another third die of stroke. High blood pressure causes blood to flow more rapidly through the body which can start to erode the inner lining of the arteries. This can cause buildup of fats and reduce the elasticity of the arteries. Weakened arteries and limited blood flow can cause a host of problems from kidney disease, to nerve damage in the eye, to brain damage or aneurism. There are other problems related to high blood pressure that, albeit less life-threatening, are significant. Things like erectile dysfunction, loss of bone density, trouble sleeping, and memory loss have been associated with high blood pressure.
Limiting the Effects of High Blood Pressure
The effects are scary, but the treatment is not only possible, it is highly effective. Most people are able to easily manage high blood pressure with medication when taken properly. There are always some risks associated with any medication, and even though blood pressure medication tends to be fairly low-risk, you may prefer a non-medicine approach. Lifestyle plays a big part in blood pressure, and there are several things you can do to limit the effects of high blood pressure in addition to or instead of medication. Weight loss is one of the most helpful things you can do to decrease blood pressure—not just weight loss in general, but shedding pounds from the waistline has shown to be the most effective. Eating a balanced diet that is high in vegetables and whole grains and low in saturated fats and red meat will help you achieve this. Regular exercise of thirty minutes most days of the week will help with weight loss and can help lower blood pressure on its own. Sodium is directly related to blood pressure, so taking control of your sodium intake can make a huge impact. Keep alcohol and caffeine to a minimum, quit smoking, and pay attention to your stress level. If you experience any symptoms, especially tightening of the chest, difficulty breathing, or irregular heartbeat, contact your doctor immediately.
The importance of monitoring and managing your blood pressure cannot be overstated. If you do not know your blood pressure, or if you have questions about what the numbers mean for you, The Woman’s Clinic can help. We are available to meet with you, take your blood pressure, and discuss the results. Don’t let that reading be your “ghost;” make an appointment today at our Jackson or Madison location.