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Blood Pressure 102: Hypertension – Eldorado Family Health

Most of us are familiar with the term Hypertension or High Blood Pressure and it is a term that is often used to emphasize the stress of a situation. You may hear someone say something like, “Don’t do that! You’re getting my blood pressure up! Or, Boy that was crazy! My blood pressure probably went through the roof!” We often laugh at stressful situations but are these statements just a play on words about our health or is there some truth to them?

There are gold standard measurements for blood pressure readings; guidelines that we use to determine whether someone actually has hypertension. In general, a blood pressure reading of 120/80 is considered a normal pressure. Readings from 120/80 to 140/90 can be considered pre-hypertensive; 140/90 to 160/90 and higher can be considered hypertensive and these readings can be broken down further into Stage 1 and Stage 2. It is important to understand that these numbers by themselves do not necessarily indicate a problem.

First, a blood pressure constantly changes and is a fluid piece of information. It can be affected by stress, diet, and emotional state. When we encounter a patient having high readings during their office visit we usually recommend that they take readings at home for one to two weeks in the morning before any of the daily stresses have set in and again in the afternoon so we can compare the readings. Second, it is important to understand that there is much more that goes into a diagnosis and a treatment plan for hypertension than just a number. This is why annual visits with your Primary Care Provider are so important. By obtaining a thorough history from our patients and understanding their lifestyles we can identify the probable cause of elevated blood pressures and tailor a treatment regimen. This can but does not always have to involve medication. Finally, it is important to understand that measuring blood pressures is one of many tools in our primary care bag to help prevent heart disease, stroke, and many other problems.

We encourage you to come talk to us today about maintaining your health with annual preventative screenings. Call Eldorado Family Health anytime to make an appointment at 505-216-7772.

My Blood Pressure is 102/71

Blood pressure 102/71 – what does it mean?

Your blood pressure reading of 102/71 indicates Hypotension. This means your blood pressure is lower than the usual with values at a systolic (upper) value under 105 mmHg and a diastolic (lower) value of under 60 mmHg.

However, in most cases this is no reason to be concerned. If your blood pressure is only slightly under said values and there are no health impairments a hypotense blood pressure might be alright.

By the way: Your diastolic value of 71 mmHg is better than your systolic value and would classify as Ideal. But if you are getting two different types of classification for your blood pressure it is correct to choose the one that is considered worse.

What you should know about a blood pressure of 102/71

Low blood pressure rarely causes any severe symptoms, but some patients experience debilitating side effects. The recommended blood pressure reading for healthy adults is 90 (systolic) over 60 mm Hg (diastolic). Your blood pressure of 102/71 is below the recommended range and considered low blood pressure. Fainting episodes and dizzy spells are two common symptoms associated with dangerously low blood pressure or BP. This condition is known as hypotension and can have life-threatening consequences if left unchecked. Several health-related conditions and life events can cause BP levels to drop. In some cases, an underlying medical condition, surgical disorders, or dehydration might be responsible.

Symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Poor concentration
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Fainting

If a patient experiences extreme hypotension, it can trigger symptoms such as palpitations, confusion, pale skin, and breathing difficulty. It is wise to seek medical attention if this happens because it can result in shock.

How to raise blood pressure quickly?

  1. Increase aggregate sodium intake. Table salt has a balanced amount of sodium content, which can help boost BP levels instantaneously. However, patients should consult their physician before adding more salt to the diet. High salt consumption can sometimes be dangerous and life-threatening.
  2. Eat wholesome, well-balanced meals to maintain a healthy diet. Sometimes low BP is triggered by poor eating habits and nutrient deficiencies. A lack of iron, folic acid, and vitamin B- 12 is a leading cause of anemia. If the body is not making an adequate volume of blood, it could lower pressure levels.
  3. Drink more water. Mild dehydration can lower blood pressure activity, which causes hypotension in extreme cases. Sometimes, sickness involving frequent vomiting, diarrhea, excess sweating, and fever may result in dehydration. In such circumstances, an adequate intake of water to rehydrate the body is necessary. For long-term benefits, those affected must maintain a healthy water drinking habit to stabilize low BP levels.

What are some healthy lifestyle changes to improve low blood pressure long-term?

Controlling low blood pressure naturally can sometimes be challenging, but equally doable with the right self-intervention measures. Numerous studies say regular exercise can have positive effects on cardiovascular health, which in turn can balance low blood pressure. However, individuals should avoid exercising in extreme heat and outdoors, especially during the summer months. Researchers also advise against prolonged rest and spending long hours in the steam room, sauna, or hot tub. Also, compression socks can improve blood flow throughout the body and boost blood pressure levels.

High blood pressure (hypertension) – NHS

High blood pressure, or hypertension, rarely has noticeable symptoms. But if untreated, it increases your risk of serious problems such as heart attacks and strokes.

Around a third of adults in the UK have high blood pressure, although many will not realise it.

The only way to find out if your blood pressure is high is to have your blood pressure checked.

Information:

Coronavirus advice

What is high blood pressure?

Blood pressure is recorded with 2 numbers. The systolic pressure (higher number) is the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body.

The diastolic pressure (lower number) is the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels.

They’re both measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg).

As a general guide:

  • high blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher (or 150/90mmHg or higher if you’re over the age of 80)
  • ideal blood pressure is usually considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg

Blood pressure readings between 120/80mmHg and 140/90mmHg could mean you’re at risk of developing high blood pressure if you do not take steps to keep your blood pressure under control.

Everyone’s blood pressure will be slightly different. What’s considered low or high for you may be normal for someone else.

Risks of high blood pressure

If your blood pressure is too high, it puts extra strain on your blood vessels, heart and other organs, such as the brain, kidneys and eyes.

Persistent high blood pressure can increase your risk of a number of serious and potentially life-threatening health conditions, such as:

If you have high blood pressure, reducing it even a small amount can help lower your risk of these health conditions.

Check your blood pressure

The only way of knowing whether you have high blood pressure is to have a blood pressure test.

All adults over 40 are advised to have their blood pressure checked at least every 5 years.  

Getting this done is easy and could save your life.

You can get your blood pressure tested at a number of places, including:

  • at your GP surgery
  • at some pharmacies
  • as part of your NHS Health Check
  • in some workplaces

You can also check your blood pressure yourself with a home blood pressure monitor.

Find out more about getting a blood pressure test

Things that can increase your risk of getting high blood pressure

It’s not always clear what causes high blood pressure, but there are things that can increase your risk.

You might be more at risk if you:

  • are overweight
  • eat too much salt and do not eat enough fruit and vegetables
  • do not do enough exercise
  • drink too much alcohol or coffee (or other caffeine-based drinks)
  • smoke
  • do not get much sleep or have disturbed sleep
  • are over 65
  • have a relative with high blood pressure
  • are of black African or black Caribbean descent
  • live in a deprived area

Making healthy lifestyle changes can sometimes help reduce your chances of getting high blood pressure and help lower your blood pressure if it’s already high.

Treatment for high blood pressure

Doctors can help you keep your blood pressure to a safe level using:

  • lifestyle changes
  • medicines

What works best is different for each person.

Talk to your doctor to help you decide about treatment.

This patient decision aid (PDF, 132kb) can also help you to understand your treatment options.

Lifestyle changes to reduce blood pressure

These lifestyle changes can help prevent and lower high blood pressure:

Some people with high blood pressure may also need to take 1 or more medicines to stop their blood pressure getting too high.

Medicines for high blood pressure

If you’re diagnosed with high blood pressure, your doctor may recommend taking 1 or more medicines to keep it under control.

These come as tablets and usually need to be taken once a day.

Common blood pressure medicines include:

The medicine recommended for you will depend on things like how high your blood pressure is, your age and your ethnicity.

Page last reviewed: 23 October 2019
Next review due: 23 October 2022

New Blood Pressure Guidelines Mean Yours Might Be Too High Now

Heart experts released new guidelines for blood pressure on Monday and that means millions more Americans will now be diagnosed with high blood pressure.

Anyone with blood pressure higher than 130/80 will be considered to have hypertension, or high blood pressure, the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology said in releasing their new joint guidelines.

“It’s very clear that lower is better,” said Dr. Paul Whelton of Tulane University, who chaired the committee that wrote the guidelines.

Everyone, even people with normal blood pressure, should watch their diet and exercise to keep blood pressure from going up, the new guidelines stress. And smoking is a major blood pressure risk.

Blood pressure of 120/80 or above is considered elevated; 130/80 to 139/89 is now considered Stage 1 hypertension and anything 140/90 or above will be considered stage 2 hypertension. If blood pressure reaches 180/120 or higher — and either number in the blood pressure reading counts — people will be classified as in hypertensive crisis with need for immediate treatment or hospitalization.

Previously, people were not considered to have high blood pressure until the top reading hit 140. “Normal hasn’t changed. We are still saying that it is great and it is normal to have a systolic blood pressure reading below 120 and a diastolic reading under 80,” Whelton said.

Related: High Blood Pressure Diagnoses Increase Among Teens

“Rather than one in three U.S. adults having high blood pressure (32 percent) with the previous definition, the new guidelines will result in nearly half of the U.S. adult population (46 percent) having high blood pressure, or hypertension,” the groups said in a joint statement.

Instead of recommending drug treatment right away, the organizations recommend that people with stage 1 hypertension try lifestyle changes first: exercising more, eating less salt, and eating more fruit, vegetables and whole grains.

“Lifestyle modification is the cornerstone for treatment of hypertension,” said Dr. Robert Carey of the University of Virginia, who helped write the guidelines. Other research, including a new study released just this week, shows the American Heart Association’s DASH diet lowers blood pressure and reduces people’s risk of stroke and heart failure.

A doctor speaks to a patient as a sphygmomanometer, or blood pressure meter, lies on his desk.Adam Berry / Getty Images file

Related: Study Confirms Lower Blood Pressure is Better

Drinking fewer than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women also lowers heart risk, Carey said, as does getting enough potassium from foods such as bananas — not from supplements.

While people may be confused by the change, the heart experts said three years of reviewing the research showed that many fewer people die if high blood pressure is treated earlier.

“We are comfortable with the recommendations. They are based on strong evidence,” Whelton said.

Carey said about 4.2 million more people would be diagnosed with high blood pressure under the new guidelines, but not all of them will be advised to take drugs — just 1.9 percent more, he said.

“We will have a big jump in prevalence but you’ll notice only a small increase in the number of people we believe will benefit from hypertensive drugs,” Carey said.

High blood pressure damages blood vessels and can lead to organ damage such as kidney and heart failure, as well as heart attacks and stroke. It’s one of the leading killers around the world as well as across the United States.

Many drugs are used to treat high blood pressure. They include diuretics, beta-blockers and ACE inhibitors, which attack blood pressure from different directions. The groups agreed that even elderly and frail patients benefit from having high blood pressure treated.

Maggie Fox

Maggie Fox is a senior writer for NBC News and TODAY, covering health policy, science, medical treatments and disease.

Blood Pressure Chart: Low, Normal, High Reading by Age

Published : 2017-11-19 – Updated : 2021-04-10
Author : Disabled World – Contact: Disabled World (Disabled-World.com)

🛈 Synopsis : Blood pressure table showing if adults and children have high, low, or healthy average blood pressure range for their age, includes other helpful cardiac related information. Systolic Pressure is the blood pressure reading when your heart beats. This reading is always the the first or top number. Diastolic Pressure is blood pressure measurement when your heart relaxes. This is always the the second or bottom number.

Main Digest

High blood pressure often does not cause any signs of illness that you can see or feel. Which is why it is important to make an appointment with your doctor – or other healthcare provider – to check your blood pressure.

It is recommended that you get your blood pressure checked at least once every year by a healthcare provider. If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure (or other related conditions), your doctor may recommend that you get it checked more often.

What Does Blood Pressure Refer To?

Blood pressure refers to the force exerted by circulating blood on the walls of blood vessels and constitutes one of the bodies principal vital signs.

The pressure of the circulating blood decreases as blood moves through your arteries, arterioles, capillaries, and veins. The term blood pressure generally refers to your arterial pressure, i.e., the pressure in the larger arteries, arteries being the blood vessels which take blood away from the heart.

Blood pressure is always given as two numbers;

  • Systolic Pressure (when the heart beats)
  • Diastolic Pressure (when the heart relaxes)

When the measurements are written, both are written as one above, or before, the other with the systolic being the first number, for example 120/75 (120 over 75).

Blood pressure measurement is NOT the same as your heart rate (pulse) or maximum heart rate measurement. Check what your heart rate for your age should be. You can calculate your predicted maximum heart rate by using the calculation: 220 – (age) = Age Predicted Maximum Heart Rate – or see our Target Heart Rate Calculator and Chart.

Measuring Your Blood Pressure

Healthcare professionals use a stethoscope and a manual sphygmomanometer to measure your blood pressure. Typically they take the reading above your elbow. The sphygmomanometer has a bladder, cuff, bulb, and a gauge. When the bulb is pumped it inflates the bladder inside the cuff, which is wrapped around your arm. This inflation will stop the blood flow in your arteries.

The stethoscope is used to listen for sound of the heartbeat, and no sound indicates that there is no flow. As the pressure is released from the bladder, you will hear the sound of the blood flowing again. That point becomes your blood pressure systolic reading. The diastolic reading is when you hear no sound again, which means that the blood flow is back to normal.

What is Classified as LOW Blood Pressure?

Low Blood Pressure Range
Blood pressure that is too low is known as Hypotension.
Systolic pressure (mm Hg) Diastolic pressure (mm Hg) Pressure Range
90 60 Borderline Low blood Pressure
60 40 Too Low Blood Pressure
50 33 Dangerously Low Blood Pressure

What is Classified as NORMAL Blood Pressure?

Normal Blood Pressure Range
Systolic pressure (mm Hg) Diastolic pressure (mm Hg) Pressure Range
130 85 High Normal Blood Pressure
120 80 Normal Blood Pressure
110 75 Low Normal Blood Pressure

What is Classified as HIGH Blood Pressure?

High Blood Pressure Range
If one or both numbers are usually high, you have high blood pressure (Hypertension).
Systolic pressure (mm Hg) Diastolic pressure (mm Hg) Stages of High Blood Pressure
210 120 Stage 4
180 110 Stage 3
160 100 Stage 2
140 90 Stage 1

Download a printable blood pressure chart.

What Should Blood Pressure be According to Age?

Approx. Ideal BP According to Age Chart
Age Female Male
1 – 2 80/34 – 120/75 83/38 – 117/76
3 100/59 100/61
4 102/62 101/64
5 104/65 103/66
6 105/68 104/68
7 106/70 106/69
8 107/71 108/71
9 109/72 110/72
10 111/73 112/73
11 113/74 114/74
12 115/74 116/75
13 117/75 117/76
14 120/75 119/77
15 120/76 120/78
16 120/78 120/78
17 120/80 120/78
18 120/80 120/80
19-24 120/79 120/79
25-29 120/80 121/80
30-35 122/81 123/82
36-39 123/82 124/83
40-45 124/83 125/83
46-49 126/84 127/84
50-55 129/85 128/85
56-59 130/86 131/87
60+ 134/84 135/88

Download a printable blood pressure by age chart.

What Causes High Blood Pressure?

A diagnosis of high or low blood pressure requires only one measurement, either systolic or diastolic, or both, to be outside the healthy range. For many people who with higher than normal blood pressure there is no obvious cause why their blood pressure is high. Some factors that may contribute to high BP include:

  • Aging
  • Stress
  • Smoking
  • Genetics
  • Sleep apnea
  • Too much salt
  • Being overweight
  • Lack of exercise
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Adrenal and thyroid disorders
  • High average alcohol consumption
  • Family history of high blood pressure

Signs of high blood pressure include, headache dizziness, pounding in ears, and a bloody nose. These symptoms typically don’t occur until high blood pressure has reached an advanced and even a possibly life threatening stage.

Symptoms of a Heart Attack

The heart requires blood to bring oxygen, and nutrients to its muscle tissue. The narrowing of the arteries due to blockage can cause high blood pressure. If this blockage occurs in the arteries of the heart, coronary arteries, heart muscle damage can occur, resulting in a heart attack.

Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, however most heart attacks start slowly with mild pain and discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain. Shortness of breath may occur, as well as nausea, or lightheadedness. It is vital to get help immediately if any of these symptoms occur.

Symptoms of a Stroke

The brain requires unobstructed blood flow to nourish its many functions. Very high, sustained blood pressure will eventually cause blood vessels to weaken. Over time these weaken vessels can break, and blood will leak into the brain. The area of the brain that is being fed by these broken vessels start to die, and this will cause a stroke. Additionally, if a blot clot blocks a narrowed artery, blood ceases to flow and a stroke will occur.

Symptoms of a stroke include sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body, confusion, trouble speaking, or seeing, sudden severe headache. If you or someone with you has one or more of these signs, don’t delay, call 911.

Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease

  • You have diabetes.
  • Your diet is high in saturated fats.
  • You consume more than two alcoholic drinks per day.
  • You have high blood pressure or need medication to control your blood pressure.
  • You have high cholesterol levels or need medication to control your cholesterol level.
  • You exercise less than 30 minutes per day – Inactivity puts a person at higher risk of developing heart disease.
  • You are overweight – Persons that have an excess of body fat are at a higher risk than persons of normal weight.
  • You are over 40 or a post-menopausal woman – Risk of heart disease increases over the age of 45 in males, over 55 in females.
  • Family History – Children of parents that developed heart disease before the age of 55 have a higher risk of developing heart disease.
  • You smoke – Cigarette smokers are at greater risk than pipe and cigar smokers, but all forms of tobacco are proven to be detrimental to the hearts health.

If you answered yes to one or more of the above, you should talk to your doctor about how you can reduce your risk through lifestyle modifications. Your doctor will determine if preventative therapies such as ASPIRIN 81mg are right for you.

Blood Pressure Medications

There are several types of blood pressure medications and if one doesn’t work, then ask your doctor to switch to another until your blood pressure becomes stable.

  • Adalat – A dihydropyridine calcium blocker. It is mostly used for treating hypertension and Angina Pectoris. Other conditions that benefit from Adalat are Raynaud’s phenomenon, Tetanus and Angina Pectoris. Brand names of the drug include Procardia and Nifedical.
  • Aldactone – While regularly prescribed for high-blood-pressure patients, the drug can also be prescribed along with other drugs. However, the drug is useful only for controlling, rather than curing, high blood pressure.

What is Angina?

Angina is a form of heart disease where the blood flow to the heart is restricted by a blockage in one or more of the arteries that carry blood into the heart. Usually, the first sign Angina is a pain in the chest, not unlike a squeezing or pressing sensation.

Printable Average Blood Pressure Reading Chart

Printable Average Blood Pressure Reading Chart.

Printable Blood Pressure By Age Chart

Printable Blood Pressure By Age Chart.

Related Medical Calculators Documents

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Cite Page: Journal: Disabled World. Language: English (U.S.). Author: Disabled World. Electronic Publication Date: 2017-11-19 - Revised: 2021-04-10. Title: Blood Pressure Chart: Low, Normal, High Reading by Age, Source: <a href=https://www.disabled-world.com/calculators-charts/bloodpressurechart.php>Blood Pressure Chart: Low, Normal, High Reading by Age</a>. Retrieved 2021-04-13, from https://www.disabled-world.com/calculators-charts/bloodpressurechart.php - Reference: DW#286-13153.

Blood Pressure | Women’s Heart Health Centre

KNOW | UNDERSTAND | ACT

 

How does blood pressure relate to cardiovascular disease?

Blood pressure is the result of circulating blood exerting pressure against the walls of your arteries. This pressure is very important because it allows the blood to flow through the arteries and deliver nutrients to all the organs of your body. Blood pressure is determined by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. The more blood your heart pumps and the more narrow your arteries, the higher your blood pressure.

Your blood pressure is recorded as two numbers (for example, 124/85 mm Hg, as shown in the graphic). The top number is the systolic and the bottom the diastolic. These values are measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).

  • The systolic value represents your heart “at work,” the pressure exerted when your heart beats and fills your arteries with blood.
  • The diastolic value represents your heart “at rest,” between beats. During this phase, your heart fills with blood in advance of the next beat.

Healthy blood pressure

Optimal blood pressure is a reading of lower than 120/80. When your blood pressure numbers are consistently greater than 135/85, you’re considered to have high blood pressure, or hypertension (but if you have diabetes or kidney disease, 130/80 is considered a high reading).

In addition to your normal, or “ideal,” blood pressure values, there are three categories of blood pressure — hypertension, pre-hypertension, and hypotension — each of which has a different impact on your health. 

Hypertension

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is present when there are consistent measures that exceed 135/85 (or readings higher than 130/80 for people with diabetes or kidney disease). This indicates that to reduce your risk of developing a serious condition, like heart disease, you should make significant lifestyle changes, including even medication, to lower your blood pressure.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, makes your heart work a lot harder and, while doing so, causes excess force on your artery walls. Any added force can damage arteries and increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

High blood pressure contributes to cardiovascular disease through the scarring of artery walls where plaque can build up and narrow the vessels. This causes a type of cardiovascular disease known as coronary artery disease. A narrowing artery can become completely blocked, leading to a heart attack. Also, plaques can break away from the artery wall and cause a blockage elsewhere.

High blood pressure has been called the silent killer because it often has no warning signs or symptoms.

People with high blood pressure are often not aware they have it until they are diagnosed by a health care professional. You could have high blood pressure for years without knowing it, putting you at greater risk for cardiovascular disease and organ damage. If damage has occurred, you may have symptoms that include:

  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tiredness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Pre-hypertension

Pre-hypertension indicates you have slightly surpassed the ideal target values and are at increased risk of developing high blood pressure, which may require medical therapy. If your systolic blood pressure is between 120 and 135 and/or your diastolic is between 80 and 85, you should take the necessary steps to decrease your blood pressure

Hypotension

Hypotension, otherwise known as low blood pressure, is a reading of less than 90/60. It can be just as serious and dangerous as high blood pressure and should not be ignored. Hypotension indicates that the force of your blood flow is inadequate, and this could mean certain of your vital organs are not receiving enough blood. Hypotension is a medical concern only if it causes signs or symptoms or is linked to a serious condition, such as heart disease. People who take certain high blood pressure medications, such as diuretics, have an increased risk for low blood pressure. 

What is considered low blood pressure may vary from person to person. Low blood pressure can be considered “normal pressure” to some people who have low blood pressure all the time. In this case, they have no signs or symptoms. Symptoms of hypotension may include:

  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Cold and sweaty or clammy skin
  • Tiredness
  • Blurry vision
  • Nausea

Risk factors for high blood pressure

There are some risk factors you cannot control, and these put you at greater risk for high blood pressure (hypertension). They include:

  • Age: About 50% of people older than the age of 65 have high blood pressure
  • Family history of high blood pressure
  • Ethnicity: High blood pressure is more common among people who are of African, South Asian, or First Nations descent.
  • Gender: The risk for women increases after menopause, putting them in even greater jeopardy than men.

What causes high blood pressure?

There are two main types of high blood pressure:

1. Primary Hypertension (also known as “essential hypertension”): Cases in which there is no easily identifiable cause for high blood pressure. The risk of developing essential hypertension increases with age. A number of lifestyle factors can increase the risk for essential hypertension, including:

  • Getting too much salt in the diet
  • Drinking alcohol excessively (males no more than two drinks a day; females one drink a day)
  • Being overweight
  • Getting insufficient exercise
  • Experiencing unmanageable stress

2. Secondary Hypertension: Cases in which high blood pressure does have an identifiable cause. Common causes of secondary hypertension include:

  • Kidney disease
  • Hormone disorders
  • Some drugs (such as birth control pills and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
  • Sleep apnea (repeated, short stops in breathing while sleeping)
  • Arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)

How is blood pressure diagnosed?

Blood pressure is diagnosed by a doctor using a blood pressure machine. The process includes:

  • Being seated in a chair with your back supported
  • Putting your feet flat on the floor and supporting your arm at heart level
  • Remaining quiet for five minutes and refraining from talking

It is very important to use the proper size cuff when taking a blood pressure reading. Failure to do so will lead to inaccuracies. A cuff that is too small for the arm circumference will give an artificially high reading. A cuff that is too large will give too low a reading. Initially, blood pressure should be measured in each arm to make sure both readings are the same. The arm with the higher readings should then be targeted for all future blood pressure checks.

If your blood pressure readings are high, your doctor may ask that you return for additional measurements on different days because blood pressure can vary widely from day to day.

Your doctor will most likely diagnose you with high blood pressure if you have several readings of 140/90 or higher. If you have readings of 130/80 or higher and are diabetic or have chronic kidney disease, you are likely to be diagnosed with high blood pressure.

What can I do if I am diagnosed with high blood pressure?

You can lower your blood pressure by changing some aspects of your lifestyle and, if necessary, taking medication prescribed by a properly trained health care professional. Changing what you eat, how much you exercise and other ways you live your life can help you prevent or control high blood pressure. Here’s what you can do, along with suggestions for getting started.

Eat healthy food

Make sure your diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods. An easy tool for planning health meals is the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet which can help you reduce your systolic blood pressure by 8-14 mm Hg.

Get plenty of potassium, which can help prevent and control high blood pressure an pay attention to the amount of salt that’s in the processed foods you eat, such as canned soups or frozen dinners.

Achieve and Maintain a Healthy Weight

If you’re overweight, a modest reduction in weight of 10% of your current body weight can lower your blood pressure. For every kilogram of weight loss, you can reduce your blood pressure by 1.1/0.9 mm Hg.

Increase Physical Activity

Regular physical activity can help lower your blood pressure and keep your weight under control. Aiming for 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity four to seven days a week can decrease total blood pressure by 4.9/3.7 mm Hg.

Limit Your Alcohol Intake

Even if you’re healthy, alcohol can raise your blood pressure. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation — one to two drinks per day for a weekly maximum of nine for women and 14 for men. Limiting your alcohol could decrease your systolic blood pressure by 2-4 mm Hg.

Be Smoke-Free

Smoking leads to injured blood vessel walls and speeds up the process of hardening of the arteries. If you smoke and want to quit, visit our section about Smoking.

Manage Stress

Set aside some time every day to relax. Practice healthy coping techniques, such as muscle relaxation and deep breathing. Getting plenty of sleep can help, too.

Monitor Your Blood Pressure

Have your blood pressure checked regularly. High blood pressure often has no symptoms, so have yours checked by a health care professional at least once every two years or as often as your doctor suggests. If you have been told you have high-normal blood pressure, or pre-hypertension, Canadian guidelines recommend that you have your blood pressure checked at least once a year. 

Home blood pressure monitoring is a good idea because it can help avoid the possibility masking your true blood pressure values. You can find home blood pressure monitors in drugstores, pharmacies, grocery stores, and department stores. If you are taking your blood pressure at home, here are some important things to consider to get the most accurate results.

  • You may experience higher numbers when you are taking your blood pressure at the doctor’s office. This could be from the anxious feeling people sometimes get when a health care professional or someone in a white coat is present. This is known as white coat syndrome.
  • This detailed video provides correct guidelines for measuring your blood pressure at home (Hypertension Canada).
  • View a printable form for home measuring instructions.

About Lifestyle Changes

Doctors often first try to lower a patient’s blood pressure by having the patient make lifestyle changes, but like most change, it can be hard. If you had to focus on just three, the most important ones would be:

  1. Physical Activity: Get 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a day for as many as four to seven days a week
  2. Diet: Follow the DASH diet and aim for less than 2,300 mg sodium each day
  3. Quit Smoking: Find a program to help you quit

If your blood pressure is under control, you may be able to make fewer visits to your doctor if you monitor your blood pressure at home. If your doctor has prescribed medication, take it as directed.

Medication Therapy

But sometimes lifestyle changes are not enough. If blood pressure levels do not diminish after several months of lifestyle changes, or when very high blood pressure poses an immediate threat to health, medication may be necessary, particularly for those with organ damage, chronic kidney disease or diabetes.

Most people who are on blood pressure medication require at least two different drugs in addition to lifestyle changes to properly treat their condition.

To learn more about the many treatment options for lowering high blood pressure on our Hypertension Medication page. More detailed information about the diagnosis and treatment of high blood pressure is available from Hypertension Canada.

High blood pressure | Heart and Stroke Foundation

Keep your blood pressure in check

High blood pressure is the number one risk factor for stroke and a major risk factor for heart disease. High blood pressure is when the blood pressure in your arteries rises and your heart has to work harder than normal to pump blood through the blood vessels. It is important that you have your blood pressure checked regularly by your healthcare provider.

What is blood pressure?

Blood pressure is a measure of the pressure or force of blood against the walls of your blood vessels (arteries). Your blood pressure reading is based on two measures. The top number (systolic) is the measure of the pressure when your heart contracts and pushes blood through the arteries. The bottom (diastolic) number is the measure of the pressure when your heart relaxes between beats.

There are three different blood pressure categories: low risk, medium risk, high risk. See your doctor or healthcare provider to get a proper blood pressure measurement and find out which category you are in.

Blood pressure categories

There are some exceptions to these categories.

If you have diabetes, the high risk category for your blood pressure is slightly lower. Your blood pressure should be less than 130 / 80. Consult a healthcare provider if your blood pressure level is higher than 130 / 80 on more than one occasion.

What is low blood pressure?

Low blood pressure (hypotension) is when the pressure in your arteries drops below the normal range. But blood pressure levels below 120 / 80 may be normal for some people. Your healthcare provider will tell you if you have low blood pressure.

How do I check my blood pressure?

Ask your doctor or other healthcare provider to check your blood pressure. If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure (or other related conditions), be sure to ask your doctor how often you should have your blood pressure checked.

Scroll down for a video on how to measure your own blood pressure. 

What should I do if I have a high blood pressure reading?

If you have one high reading, you should have it checked at least two more times on separate days to determine if it is consistently high.

Keep a record of your blood pressure readings on a blood pressure tracking card. This record will help determine whether your blood pressure is within a healthy range.

What can I do to control my blood pressure?

High blood pressure can be caused by many factors. You can’t control some risk factors, such as age, ethnicity and gender. Other factors, such as diet, exercise and smoking can be addressed through lifestyle changes to reduce your risk for high blood pressure.

After 65, women are more likely than men to get high blood pressure. Throughout a woman’s life, factors like pregnancy, birth control and menopause can increase the risk of developing high blood pressure.
Here is what you can do:

 

  • Have your blood pressure checked regularly as recommended by your healthcare provider.
  • If your doctor has prescribed medication for hypertension, take it as directed. Follow these links to more information about medications for hypertension and heart disease or hypertension and stroke.
  • Reduce the amount of salt you eat. High sources of sodium are found in  highly processed foods. This includes fast foods, prepared meals, processed meats (such as hot dogs and lunch meats), canned and dried soups, bottled dressing, packaged sauces, condiments and salty snacks. Also try to limit your use of salt in cooking and at the table. Heart & Stroke recommends that Canadians eat less than 2,300 mg of sodium (about 1 tsp / 5 mL of salt) a day total from processed foods and salt added during food preparation and at the table. If you have high blood pressure, the recommendation is to eat less than 2000 mg of sodium per day.
  • Eat foods high in potassium such as fresh fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy foods, beans and lentils – unless you are taking a medication that interacts with potassium. 
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet that is lower in salt and fat (especially saturated fat). Get tips on healthy eating and learn more about the DASH eating plan, which can help lower your high blood pressure and the Mediterranean diet.
  • Be physically active for at least 150 minutes per week doing moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, in bouts of 10 minutes or more. Speak to your healthcare provider before starting a physical activity program.
  • Achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. If you are overweight, losing even 5% to 10% of your weight can help to reduce your blood pressure as well as decrease your chances of having a stroke or heart attack.
  • Be smoke-free. If you smoke, speak to your doctor or healthcare provider about quitting. If you don’t smoke, minimize exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • If you drink alcohol, limit yourself to no more than 2 drinks a day, to a weekly maximum of 10 for women and 3 drinks a day to a weekly maximum of 15 for men.
  • Find healthy ways to manage your stress. Too much stress may increase your blood pressure. Research suggests that the way in which you manage your stress is very important. Avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms such as smoking, alcohol use, poor food choices, not being active, and watching too much television. Find relief instead with physical activity, socializing, laughter and healthy eating. Remember to take time out for yourself. Get tips on relaxation and mindfulness from people who are living with heart disease and stroke.
Measuring your blood pressure at home

Home monitoring can help your doctor to diagnose your blood pressure correctly. It is possible for your blood pressure to rise when you visit the doctor’s office because you may be anxious. However, your blood pressure can return to normal as you go about your daily activities. This is called “white coat effect.” Measuring your own blood pressure regularly can help you determine if your blood pressure is in fact high.

On the other hand, you may experience normal blood pressure when it is measured in the doctor’s office, but have high blood pressure in other situations. This is known as “masked hypertension.” If you have a higher risk of heart disease or stroke (e.g. if you have diabetes), it is important to find out if you have masked hypertension. If this is the case, your doctor may ask you to monitor your blood pressure at home.

It is important to make sure that your home monitor is taking accurate measurements so your healthcare provider can get a complete picture of your blood pressure.

How to measure your own blood pressure