Knowing what blood pressure is will help you to understand why it should be checked on a regular, if not monthly basis.
In a nutshell, blood pressure is a measurement of how hard your heart is working to circulate blood and oxygen around your body. If your heart is not exerting enough pressure, blood and oxygen will not be able to travel to all the places it needs to in the body. To determine how hard your heart is working, medical professionals measure blood pressure. Blood pressure is determined by two sets of numbers. Systolic pressure and diastolic pressure. The average or goal for adults is somewhere in the range of 90/60 and 120/80.
Understanding the Readings…
Systolic pressure or the top number measures the amount of pressure in your arteries during the contraction of your heart muscle. When this number is high, it signals that the heart is working too hard and is over-exerting itself and should be monitored closely by a medical professional to help prevent heart damage, heart attack, or stroke.
In some people, it is natural or considered baseline for the systolic pressure to be low, under the range of 90. If the systolic pressure drops suddenly and is not a normal reading/baseline reading, it could be a sign of the heart not being able to work hard enough to get blood to the body and organs. This can be extremely damaging to the body and should be taken care of immediately by a physician.
Diastolic pressure is the bottom number. This number measures the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart rests between beats. If this pressure is high, it could signal an increased risk of a cardiac event and you should seek the assistance of a medical doctor immediately.
If the diastolic pressure is low, it could be an indication of a serious medical disorder and you should seek medical attention right away.
Both high and low blood pressure has subtle or no symptoms. It can creep on slowly over time making the symptoms harder to identify. Or, a change in blood pressure can come on suddenly. Both indicate changes that need to be seriously looked at. Below are some symptoms of high and low blood pressure that you should be aware of:
High blood pressure or hypertension symptoms:
- Blurred vision
- Shortness of breath
- Heart attack
- Chest pain
Low blood pressure symptoms:
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Fainting (syncope)
- Blurred vision
- Lack of concentration
Extreme low blood pressure known as hypotension can result in life-threatening conditions. Signs and symptoms to look for in this case include things like:
- Confusion, especially in older people
- Cold, clammy, pale skin
- Rapid, shallow breathing
- Weak and rapid pulse
The best way to monitor your blood pressure and understand what your baseline or normal range is, is to get is checked monthly. Many drug stores and grocery stores have blood pressure machines available for you to use whenever needed. If you are concerned about the accuracy of those machines, consider investing in a personal machine for your home. These types of machines are small, portable, and easy to store.
Regardless of the type of machine you choose to use, it is best to follow these tips:
- Check blood pressure monthly
- Record readings each time
- Remain calm during the reading
- Note extreme changes and call your doctor immediately
- Be consistent in the time of day you take your blood pressure
- Follow and understand the instructions of the blood pressure machine before attempting to get an accurate reading
Remember, symptoms can be difficult to detect which is why many call heart disease and cardiac events a silent killer. Be proactive. Download my blood pressure tracker to help stay on top of any changes that may occur with your blood pressure.