I have to admit I knew very little about blood pressure until writing this article. I did know that having a blood pressure reading that is too high or too low is dangerous to our health. I have learned about blood pressure before but I didn’t retain any of the information. Thanks to the medical TV shows out there I think we all know that blood pressure is a number over a number. Sometimes Dr. Gray looks concerned and sometimes she doesn’t.
Those two numbers are the measurement of the systolic and diastolic blood pressures. I’m pretty sure this is where my brain went numb when I was taught this before. In simple terms (I hope to remember it this time) the systolic number is a measure of the force that your heart exerts on the walls of your arteries each time it beats. The diastolic number is the force your heart exerts on the walls of your arteries when it’s at rest between beats. A normal rating is anything below 120 (systolic)/80 (diastolic) measured in millimetres of mercury (mm Hg). Anything higher is considered, well, high and it needs attention. Anything less than 90/60 is consider low, and has its own complication
The risks of living with high blood pressure is the wear and tear to the arteries. The excessive pressure on the artery walls can damage blood vessels and organs. The higher pressure and the longer it goes uncontrolled the greater the damage. High blood pressure can lead to:
- Heart attack or stroke
- Heart failure
- Kidney disfunction
On the other end of the scale is low blood pressure. Moderate levels can cause dizziness, weakness and fainting, increasing the risks of injuries from falls. Severely low blood pressure can deprive the body from getting enough oxygenate function, leading to heart and brain damage.
Now I have a better understanding of blood pressure readings. Optimal levels of pressure keep everything working well. The brain, heart and other organs are getting the nutrients they need and the blood is flowing easily and not causing damage to the “pipes” that are carrying them. That makes sense. Maintaining or adopting a healthy lifestyle is the first recommendation to bring high or low blood pressure readings to normal levels. That makes sense too.
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