47% percent of adults in the United States have high blood pressure, yet many people don’t know the basics behind what leads to high blood pressure or the steps they can take to reduce it. Hypertension is known as “the silent killer” because, in most cases, there are no warning signs or obvious symptoms. This lack of indication is part of the reason why close to 500,000 Americans die from high blood pressure-related illnesses each year. To provide a guide to some hypertension basics, we’re answering the most commonly asked blood pressure questions so that you can take charge of your blood pressure and your overall health.
What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the force at which the blood pushes against the walls of the arteries. Your blood pressure is read by measuring your systolic and diastolic blood pressures. Your systolic blood pressure number is the top number, and it measures the force of the blood pushing against the arteries as your heart beats, while the bottom number, the diastolic blood pressure, measures the force of the blood against the walls of the arteries in between beats. Normal blood pressure numbers are when the systolic number is less than 120, and the diastolic number is less than 80 mmHg.
What is high blood pressure?
High blood pressure is defined as a systolic blood pressure greater than 120 mmHg, and hypertension occurs when the systolic blood pressure is greater than 130 mmHg or a diastolic blood pressure greater than 80 mmHg. When blood pressure remains elevated over time, the prolonged force starts to damage tissues in the arteries. Cholesterol then begins to form alongside these damaged tissues, leading to narrower arteries and making the heart work even harder. This is what leads to problems with the heart, including heart attacks.
How do I know what my blood pressure is?
Finding out your blood pressure is simple and is standard at any visit to the doctor’s office. Blood pressure readings are typically taken using a blood pressure cuff and are administered by a healthcare professional. There are, however, home blood pressure monitors that you can use yourself.
How can I manage my blood pressure?
Like with most health conditions, taking steps to live a healthier lifestyle is the first course of action when working to lower blood pressure. Eating a healthier diet, reducing your salt intake, and regular exercise can lower your average blood pressure by about ten mmHg. For significantly elevated blood pressure, your doctor may prescribe you medication to supplement your lifestyle changes. One of the most commonly asked blood pressure questions relates to medication, but fortunately, there are a variety of medications on the market, so your doctor will be able to help you choose the right option for you. For more tips on lowering your blood pressure, take a look at our blog, 8 Everyday Habits to Lower Your Blood Pressure.
Make an Appointment
It is important to have an understanding of what a normal blood pressure reading is. For questions on blood pressure readings or at-home blood pressure monitoring, reaching out to Durham Nephrology Associates to schedule an appointment. While a single high reading is not alarming, more than a few unusually high readings in a row is an indication that you should call your doctor. No matter what blood pressure questions you may have, our team will be able to help guide you in the right direction. We are dedicated to providing quality care to patients in Durham and Oxford with kidney disease and high blood pressure. To contact us, request an appointment, or call us directly at (919) 447-3005.