The amount of blood the heart pumps and the extent of resistance to blood flow in the arteries are what determines blood pressure, the more the heart pump and the narrower your arteries, the higher the blood pressure as a narrow arteries increases resistance of blood flow . High blood pressure also known as hypertension is a common condition in which long-term force of blood against the artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems such as heart diseases. High blood pressure generally develops over many years and it affects everyone eventually, thankfully
it can be easily detected with a device called sphygmonanometer. This device are of two types depending on how it is used and how the results appear which are, manual and digital, the digital is the commonest as it is easier to use and
easier to carry around especially for those that have it for personal use. The unit of measurement for blood pressure is the millimeters of mercury .
Basic precautions in using the shygmonanometer;
- ensure your back is well rested.
- ensure you are not chewing anything.
- ensure the cuffs are well fitted so as to get accurate results.
- for the digital type ensure the batteries are not weak to avoid inaccurate result.
- remove the batteries when not in use so it can last longer.
Understanding the reading
Two numbers create a blood pressure reading, which are;
Systolic pressure: it is usually the first or top number. It indicates the pressure in the arteries when the heart pumps out blood.
Diastolic: it is the second number which is usually under. It is the reading of the pressure in your arteries between beats of your heart.
Symptoms of high blood pressure
High blood pressure is a silent killer in the sense that most people do not experience symptoms and those that do, the blood pressure would have gotten to a severe level that will need emergency treatment . Few people with hypertension may experience Headache, shortness of breath and nose bleed which might be attributed to another illness.
Causes of high blood pressure
There are two types of high blood pressure;
Primary hypertension: This type is also called essential hypertension. It develops overtime with no identifiable cause, most people have this type of hypertension. Researchers are still unclear as to what mechanism cause blood pressure to slowly increase, a combination of factors play a role. These factors include;
- genes: some people are genetically predisposed to high blood pressure which maybe from genetic mutation or abnormalities inherited from parents.
- physical changes: changes in the functioning of some organs overtime can lead to continuous increase in blood pressure, organs such as kidney, eye, heart.
- environmental : unhealthy lifestyle choices such as lack of physical activities, poor diet, poor sleeping habit can take a toll on the body.
Secondary high blood pressure: This type occur when there is an underlying condition causing the high blood pressure.
Some of such conditions include;
Obstructive sleep apnea, kidney problem, adrenal gland tumors, certain congenital defect in the blood vessels, taking birth control pills, cold remedies, some over-the-counter drugs, illegal drugs like cocaine e.t.c.
These are factors that can increase the likelihood of an individual having hypertension. Some of the factors are;
-Age: the risk increases with age but doesn’t mean young adults too can’t have it.
-Race: it is said to be common among African heritage when compared to other races.
-Family history : it’s tends to run in the family.
-Overweight or obese: the more you weigh, the more blood need to supply oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. As the
volume of blood circulated through the blood vessels increases, so does the pressure on the artery wall.
-Not being physically active: exercise helps burn excess fat as some of it build up as plagues in the artery, leading to it’s
narrowing hence more pressure in pumping of blood and eventually a blocked artery.
One way or the other almost every member of the adult population fall into one more category of the risk factors, which is why it is important to get our blood pressure checked regularly no matter how young we think we are.
Due to its asymptomatic nature, an elevated blood pressure could cause lasting damage to some organs in the body if
not detected early. High blood pressure that is not detected or managed properly could damage some organs in the
body. Some of its effect include;
- Damage arteries: a healthy artery is strong and flexible which makes blood flow through it freely and unobstructed.
Hypertension makes arteries tougher, tighter and less elastic. This damage makes it easier for dietary fats to deposit in
the arteries and restrict blood flow which would lead to increased blood pressure, blockage of the arteries and eventually
heart attack and stroke.
- Damaged heart: high blood pressure makes the heart work harder in a way that the heart muscle need to pump more
frequently and with more force than a healthy heart. This may lead to an enlarged heart which increases risk of heart
failure, sudden cardiac death and heart attack.
- Damaged brain: the brain relies on a healthy supply of oxygen-rich blood to work properly. Hypertension can reduce
blood supply to the brain and if not controlled can affect memory, ability to learn, recall, speak and reason.
Categories that define blood pressure for adults. Experts came up with a form of blood pressure guide for adults ;
Healthy: a healthy blood pressure reading is less than 120/80mmHg.
Elevated: the systolic number is between 120 and 129mmHg, and the diastolic number less than 80mmHg.
Stage 1 hypertension: the systolic number is between 139 and 139mmHg, or the diastolic number is between 80 and 89mmHg.
Stage 2 hypertension: the systolic number is between 140mmHg or higher, or the diastolic is 90mmHg or higher.
Hypertensive crisis: the systolic number is over 180mmHg or the diastolic number is over 120mmHg. Blood pressure
within these range requires immediate medical attention.
Preventing adverse effect high blood pressure is possible with the help of some lifestyle changes which include;
- consistent checking of blood pressure
- exercise more often
- dietary change
- monitor your weight.
Sphygmonanometer is a device everyone should try to have at home, it is an investment towards healthy living and can save our lives. Make an effort towards buying and if you can’t afford one, ensure you check your blood pressure constantly from any health institution nearby. Recording the results of the blood pressure reading is as important as checking it you can forget your last reading, your are not a computer.
Make sure you get a jotter to write down the dates and reading of your blood pressure.
High blood pressure does not only occur in old people some young adults can also have hypertension but the only way you can know is to check.
Early detection and proper management is key in curbing the damages hypertension can cause to your body organs. Act now before it acts on you.