Relationship between Blood Pressure and Heart Health

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Your blood pressure can be defined as ‘the amount of force required by your blood to get through your arteries’. This is closely related to the health of your heart, because your heart is responsible for pumping oxygenated blood through all of your body’s arteries every time it beats. Therefore, a higher blood pressure means that your heart is under more stress, because it has to work harder to pump blood around your body.

One of the main issues you may face with your blood pressure is having high blood pressure. This is often known as the ‘silent killer’, because it often presents without any obvious symptoms. However, high blood pressure can put you at high risk of cardiovascular (heart) problems, as well as many other conditions including:

  • Stroke
  • Enlarged heart
  • Heart failure
  • Aneurysms
  • Kidney disease

There are several genetic and lifestyle factors which can put you at risk of high blood pressure. Some of the most common include:

  • Having a family history of high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes
  • Being black
  • Being over 60
  • Having high cholesterol
  • Being obese
  • Not exercising
  • Using tobacco

Now you know about some of the main factors influencing blood pressure, and why high blood pressure can be so dangerous to the health of your heart, it’s time to explore how to measure blood pressure. You can only measure this with specialist sensors, gauges and cuffs.

Blood pressure is measured using two numbers. The first recorded number is the systolic number. This represents how fast your blood travels when being pushed by the heart. The diastolic number represents the force of your blood while your heart is at rest. Usually, the systolic number is displayed above the diastolic number on blood pressure monitors.

According to the AHA (American Heart Association), blood pressure readings can be interpreted as follows:

  • Normal blood pressure: Numbers less than 120/80 mm Hg are considered to be a normal, healthy blood pressure.
  • Elevated blood pressure: This is categorized as a systolic number ranging from 120-129 and a diastolic number of under 80. If this is the case for you, you should consider changing certain lifestyle habits to reduce your blood pressure.
  • Hypertension stage 1: Your systolic pressure ranges from 130-139 and your diastolic pressure ranges from 80-89. Doctors will strongly recommend lifestyle changes and may prescribe blood pressure medication to reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • Hypertension stage 2: Your blood pressure numbers are higher than 140/90. Doctors will likely prescribe lifestyle changes combined with blood pressure medication.
  • Hypertensive crisis: If your blood pressure exceeds 180/120, you should seek urgent medical attention. If this reading occurs with chest pain, shortness of breath, back pain or numbness/weakness, dial 911 immediately because you are likely experiencing a hypertensive crisis.

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