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Blood Pressure: What you need to know

Blood Pressure: What you need to know

There is so much buzz about blood pressure, it seems to be the favorite vital sign. I’d like to point out some things to ease the tension around the topic and help you understand why we care about this vital sign.

First, let’s get the obvious out of the way. Consistent exercise/daily physical activity will absolutely affect your blood pressure in a positive way. Hands down.

What should your blood pressure be?

If you are healthy without disease, a goal of 120/80 or less with both numbers is ideal. However, you have some wiggle room. Typically, you will not be diagnosed with high blood pressure until it is 140/90 or higher. This number is 150/90 if you are 60 years or older. If you already have a diagnosis of high blood pressure, have diabetes, heart disease, very high cholesterol or certain other diseases, your goal will be 130/80 or less with both numbers. Again, your doctor will typically monitor and wait for your pressure to be 140/90 or higher to start you on a medication. Opinions differ.

Accurate measurement is KEY : many times, you will have your blood pressure taken immediately after standing up, walking a few steps, then sitting down again. This is convenient for some doctor’s offices, but oftentimes it can lead to measurements that are higher than usual. The standard blood pressure goal of 120/80 or less is a RESTING blood pressure, meaning that you have ideally been sitting still and calm for about 5 minutes.

The major risks of having high blood pressure:

  • Heart failure – when the pressure in your blood vessels is elevated, it takes more work for your heart to pump against them. Sometimes this can lead to remodeling of the heart muscle and eventual heart failure. Big deal.
  • Stroke or Heart attack– the harder the heart works to pump blood through those vessels, and sometimes hardened vessels from aging and vascular disease, the higher the risk of creating turbulent flow allowing for blood clots to form and travel up to the brain or heart. This can lead to a stroke or heart attack.
  • Organ failure – the higher the pressure, the higher the risk of cutting off blood supply to small, vital organs such as the kidneys, eyes, even the brain.

That was a ton of information! If you want to talk more or if you’re worried about your own blood pressure, give me a call. (480) 571-5934.

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