Blood pressure management:
When last did you check your blood pressure to know its value? Do you have your personal device for measuring the pressure or do you depend on the hospital for checking yours? Whichever way you measure yours, it is very important to do it routinely.
One of the things to be on the lookout, for at least once a week, is your bloodpressure. It is among the health determinants and an incredible indicator of good health. Its value can tell how healthy your heart is. It can also show how physically fit you are.
What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the pressure needed to pump blood through your arteries down to different parts of your body. It is measured using a special device called a sphygmomanometer.
This pressure at which the heart pumps blood to different parts of the body through the arteries can be normal, high, or low depending on some factors prevailing at the moment.
Sometimes, an increase in the normal value of can be a result of other background illnesses. An increase in its value, on its own, can cause other serious medical conditions such as cerebrovascular damage like stroke.
On the other hand, low blood pressure can also spell an ongoing hemodynamic imbalance which can precipitate shock. Most times, low value is caused by some drugs or other health risks.
It is, therefore, important that you measure and probably have your blood pressure chart accordingly.
How to measure blood pressure?
There is a procedure for measuring your blood pressure and such a procedure is what I am going to outline in this post.
- Ensure that the measuring device is at the same level as the heart of the person you measuring.
- Put/ tie the cuff at least 4cm above the upper border of the cubital fossa.
- Inflate the cuff gradually.
- Place your stethoscope on the media side of your cubital fossa near the brachial artery.
- Now, start gradually to deflate the already inflated cuff using the dial.
- Listen carefully for when you will hear the first sound using your stethoscope. Here you are looking for the systolic pressure
- Also, listen to the last sound. Here you are looking for diastolic pressure.
- Repeat this at least once to confirm the result.
- If you have an automated blood pressure measuring device, you may not follow all the above steps.
Place the measuring device at the same height as the heart.
Here you will need to ensure that your patient or the person you are about to measure their blood pressure has their heart at the same height as the blood pressure machine. This will ensure that there is an equal force of gravity acting on both. How to do this is simple; first, ensure that your patient is well seated, then place the machine on a table at the same height as the patient.
Put/ tie the cuff at least 3cm above the upper border of the cubital fossa.
You will need to put your appropriate and well-sized cuff around the upper arm of the person. Let it be a little above the cubital fossa so that you place the stethoscope over the brachial artery. This will help you to listen and hear the first sound when it appears.
Putting the cuff on the arm well will is the rate-limiting step that will determine how correct and reliable your value can be. The values of bloodpressure are most likely reproducible and if there must be some variation it has to be around 10 to 15 mmHg.
Inflate the cuff gradually.
After tying the cuff over the arm, the next step is to start inflating the cuff. As you are inflating the cuff, you should be looking at the sphygmomanometer to see the increase in pressure as you continue to inflate. Inflate it up to 160mmHg. If such a person is a known hypertensive, you can inflate it up to 180mmHg. This will help you to hear the first sound assuming it is elevated.
Place your stethoscope on the media side of your cubital fossa near the brachial artery.
After inflating the cuff, the next step will be to hear the first sound that will be produced. To do this, you have to place your stethoscope rightly. The best way to position your stethoscope is on the media side over the brachial artery.
Remember that not positioning it well can lead to getting the wrong value as a result. In case you can’t hear the sound produced as you deflate the cuff, the next step will be for you to test your stethoscope and ensure that it is making an audible sound as you tab the bell.
Now, start gradually to deflate the already inflated cuff using the dial.
Here, you are ready to get your first reading; you are ready for systolic blood pressure. So you gradually start deflating the cuff. As it starts losing air, the pressure within the cuff will become less. Remember that the essence of putting the cuff is to occlude the brachial artery.
You want to stop blood flow through the artery and to see the pressure that the blood will use to rush down when you release the cuff. So as you begin to release the cuff, you will hear the first sound made as soon as you release the cuff. It is this first sound that is taken as the systolic blood pressure.
Listen carefully for when you will hear the first and final sounds using your stethoscope
Your main goal here is to hear the first and the final sound which will stand for the systolic and the diastolic blood pressures. A combination of the two will tell you more about your health. It will help you understand if you need some lifestyle modifications or if you need immediate medication to relieve the pressure.
Using automated sphygmomanometer
In this case, you will not need to listen to the first sound. In fact, you can check your blood pressure on your own without seeking assistance from anyone. All you need to do is to follow our instructions above till the 4th one.
The value will be boldly displayed for you to see. Some of the automated machines can store the values it has for further use. It is very important to use the one that is more convenient for you. This will help you to routinely measure it and keep track of its value all the time.
What is normal blood pressure?
Normal blood pressure varies among normal people. However, according to research and consensus from WHO, the 95th percentile of people have 120/80 mmHg as their normal blood pressure.
However, people can also have a range of 100/70 to 130/85 as their normal blood pressure. Maintaining this normal value depends on some factors which may include regular exercise and a good diet.
What is high blood pressure?
High blood pressure is when the measured value is beyond the normal range for an individual. It is also known as hypertension. According to World Health Organization, values equal to or above 140/90mmHg is high. Over 700 million people are also known to have untreated hypertension.
This is not good for the body because the heart will need more force to pump blood to different parts of your body. The heart will need to increase its pressure to meet up with the pressure within the vessels so as to effectively pump the blood through the vessels.
The arterial blood is known to carry oxygen and nutrients. In the event of high blood pressure, there will be circulation. This may result in hemodynamic imbalance. Such may affect different parts of our body including our brain.
When the brain is affected it may result in impaired mental function or stroke in some severe situations. Therefore, it is important to adjust our lifestyle and also take appropriate steps to relieve high blood pressure.
Causes of high blood pressure?
High blood pressure can be genetically inherited. In this case, you can trace high values in people’s linage. A history of one or both parents having high values will be positive and significant in such people. Asides from genetics, people can also have high blood pressure as a result of their lifestyle such as excessive smoking, taking too salty food, sedentary lifestyle, etc.
Some people can also have high blood pressure without any known causes of it. Many things can lead to your blood pressure being high; however, monitoring its value as you monitor your weight, blood oxygen saturation, pulse rate, and temperature are very important for your good health.
Signs and symptoms of high blood pressure?
Below are some of the things you can be on the lookout for as they point to you having high blood pressure.
- Not seeing clearly as a result of blurred vision. High blood pressure has a way of affecting your brain and making it wear to function well. Your eyes that are working for the brain can also be affected resulting in you seeing double or your vision will become blurry.
- As a result of the high-pressure need for blood to circulate through your vessels, there is a chance that blood may not be adequately supplied to all parts of the body leading to lightheadedness, fainting spell, fatigue, headache, and other symptoms.
- Your heartbeat may also become very audible to the extent that you now feel each of your beats. This condition is known as palpitation.
- Shortness of breath may be a pointer to low oxygen circulation within your system as the pressure of the blood increase. Such an increase in pressure may also cause pulmonary hypertension which will further affect the oxygenation process in your system.
- Other non-specific symptoms of high blood pressure may include you having nausea, vomiting, or nosebleeds.
- High blood pressure can also be asymptomatic as you may not have any change in your body when the pressure is very high. This is what is known as hypertensive urgency; where your blood pressure is as high as 180/110 without an obvious sign or symptom.
What is low blood pressure?
Low blood pressure is when your blood pressure is below 100/70mmHg. It can be a result of low venous return to the heart or a result of the shortage of blood in your body. It is otherwise known as hypotension. Just as high blood pressure, low value can also precipitate medical adverse effects which may not be too good for your health.
If you allow low blood pressure to continue, it may lead to shock and severe circulatory collapse. One of the major causes of this low value is drug intake. Some people that take an overdose of lowering medication can result in low blood pressure.
Infections leading to sepsis can also cause low blood pressure which will manifest along with symptoms such as fever, abdominal pain, and others. The consequences of having low value for long are very fatal and should be taken seriously anytime it is noted. The good thing about this low blood pressure is that it easily presents with symptoms.
The symptoms will help you note its presence and do something about it at the right time before it will progress to shock. Snake bites and allergic reactions can also lead to the development of low blood pressure. When you measure your blood pressure and discovered that it is low, the best thing to do immediately is to report to the nearest hospital or clinic around you for medical care.
Signs and Symptoms of low blood pressure?
Below are some of the signs and symptoms to be on the lookout for in low blood pressure.
- Low blood pressure is sometimes the same as low blood volume in your body. This means that your body may not receive an adequate blood supply which may lead to dizziness and lightheadedness.
- there can also be confusion, blurring of vision, feeling so sick, having fainting spells, etc. these may result in you being unable to do anything including eating. Depending on the degree of low blood pressure, you may also not notice any of these symptoms. However, it is very important for you to go to the nearest clinic for proper and expert evaluation.
What are the benefits of treating hypertension?
Due to the fatal nature of untreated hypertension, It is important to treat it. In the treatment of hypertension, it is important to start with lifestyle modifications. These include stopping smoking, starting routine exercises, reducing salty food, etc. It is also good to pay a visit to your physician so that he or she can make some prescriptions for you to start taking so as to restore the pressure to normal. This will help you immensely to reduce the effect of blood pressure on your body. When you treat hypertension, the first benefit you will have is that you have automatically reduced the high rate of developing cerebrovascular accidents. You will also reduce the stress on your heart. You can also use the World Health organization’s Hypertension treatment recommendation.
What blood pressure level requires medications?
It is not all low or high blood pressure that requires medications. That is why it is important to visit your physician as soon as you notice any change in your normal blood pressure. Your physician will also tell you the appropriate time to take your medication.
How many drugs do I need to treat my hypertension?
The number of drugs you need to put your blood pressure to normal will depend on the value of your blood pressure. You can take a minimum of a daily dose of the drug. However, it is important to see a doctor who will evaluate you and know if you need a drug in the first place because if you take the drug for hypertension when it is not necessary, it may result in hypotension. These will not be for your own good.
What is stroke-level blood pressure?
Stroke is a major complication of elevated pressure and it is good to do anything possible to ensure that someone does not develop it. The first thing to do to ensure you do not have hypertension that is at the level of causing a stroke is to always treat the high-level blood pressure. When you constantly treat your blood pressure, you will be reducing your chances of developing brain damage as a resulting shortage of blood to the brain. Values above 180/110 is of much concern when it comes to stroke. However, you need to understand that you may have high blood pressure without having signs or symptoms. The gold test of your staying healthy remains using an appropriate monitoring machine.
What is orthostatic hypotension?
Orthostatic hypotension is said to occur when someone develops hypotension after standing up from a sitting position. It can result in the sudden collapse of the person if immediate care is not given. Some people who have hypertension also have their pressure measured in their standing position to ensure that they are not in danger of orthostatic collapse.
It is important to routinely monitor your blood pressure. You need an accurate device for this checkup. Hypertension and Hypotension are silent killers. They may not give you signs or any warning of their presence. Sometimes, they may give you some signs which may look manageable but the best thing should be to see a doctor for expert evaluation.
If you have a history of people with hypertension in your family, it is also good to take it seriously and be ready for it anytime it comes knocking on your door. Hypertension is a chronic illness but you can adequately control it with a good lifestyle and medications.