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Maintaining Normal Blood Pressure

June 28, 2016 5 Comments

Abnormal blood pressure can be life threatening – and here’s what you need to know about maintaining normal blood pressure.

Research shows that over 50% of men and women will develop high blood pressure (aka hypertension) over the age of 55.

Reading Blooding PressureHigh blood pressure can lead to heart attack and stroke – and as I said about abnormal blood pressure being life threatening – heart attacks and stokes are two of the three leading causes of death! And did you know that a person can have high blood pressure without experiencing any symptoms whatsoever? Or they might have just ‘little annoying things’ happen which they choose to ignore, thinking they are just part and parcel of ‘getting older’. This is why it’s very important to regularly check your client’s blood pressure.

Understanding Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is the force the blood exerts on the walls of your arteries. These are the blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood away from your heart.

Systolic Pressure – when your heart beats and forces more blood into the arteries, the force is a little higher. This is called your systolic pressure.

Diastolic Pressure – between heart beats, the pressure drops. This is called your diastolic pressure.

If the arteries of your heart become stiff or narrow then pressure builds up. This makes the heart work harder to force the blood away. The heart is busy doing what it does on a daily basis – beating about 2,500,000,000 times in an average lifetime – and you don’t want it to work even harder due to hypertension!

Blood Pressure Readings

To take a blood pressure reading, a Health Care Provider places a cuff around their client’s arm and inflates it until the blood stops flowing. They then slowly deflate the cuff and listen to an artery in the arm, on the opposite side of the elbow. The first sound of blood flowing (which sounds like a heartbeat) allows them to measure the systolic blood pressure. When they can’t hear the beat anymore, they measure the diastolic blood pressure.

Measuring the Blood Pressure

  • Normal Blood Pressure – this is systolic pressure less than 120 and diastolic less than 80
  • Prehypertension – this is systolic pressure between 120 and 139 and diastolic pressure between 80 and 89
  • Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) – this is systolic pressure over 139 and diastolic pressure over 89

It’s important that you know that one abnormal blood pressure reading does not mean hypertension. You will need to check a person’s blood pressure reading several times on different days before deciding if they have high blood pressure or not. During your studies with Back to Basics Care you will learn how to correctly measure a person’s blood pressure.

How Do You Maintain Normal Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure may be influenced by a person aging, having diabetes, or having a family history of diabetes. However, there are many people who have successfully maintained normal blood pressure by implementing some healthy choices in their lives.

Move that Body! Get a Little Jig Going!

Exercise helps with maintaining normal blood pressure in two main ways. It stimulates the body to release a substance called nitric acid. Nitric acid causes blood vessels to open up, which reduces blood pressure. Exercise also helps to strengthen the heart muscle, reduce stress, and aid with weight loss – all contributing to normalising blood pressure.

Simple exercise such as lifting very light weights, dancing (and no, you don’t have to wow everyone with your Michael Jackson Moon-walk moves – just move to some music), or slowly walking around the nursing home or gardens is a great start.

Lose Excess Weight

While I’m one for the odd sweet and rich dessert (the Back to Basics Care team have yet to discover my secret cache!), research still proves that blood pressure increases as weight increases. Even losing 4 or 5kg can reduce blood pressure. Of course this leads us nicely into the next way to maintain normal blood pressure…

Eat Healthy

Eating the right type of diet can lower the risk of high blood pressure or help to return to normal blood pressure. Clinical studies show that a diet high in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grains, poultry, fish, and nuts is good for your body. Avoid fats, red meat, and excess sugar. Skip the crunchy sugar-laden Rocky-Road and munch on some sliced up crunchy apple or pear instead.

Minimise Salt, Smoking and Drinking

Let’s start with the salt… Studies show that high salt intake can contribute to high blood pressure. A body only needs about 500mg a day, and current recommendations are around 2,400mg per day. That’s around one teaspoon. A high sodium diet increases the amount of water in the body. The extra fluid volume increases blood pressure.

Smoking, as you know is not a good habit. Beside being carcinogenic, nicotine causes blood vessels to constrict so the heart has to work harder, thus raising blood pressure.

Alcohol also raises blood pressure and is full of empty calories, helping to pile on unwanted weight. A safe amount of alcohol is one drink a day for women, and two for men.

How do You Know if Someone has High Blood Pressure?

The only way to know if a person has high blood pressure or normal blood pressure is to have a blood pressure reading performed by a trained Health Care Provider. And it is recommended to have a blood pressure reading at least once every two years.

Blood pressure can change from minute to minute, and on top of the above conditions (eating healthy, etc), these changes can also be influenced by:

  • Age – Blood pressure is at its lowest during infancy and childhood, then increases with age.
  • Gender – Women usually have lower blood pressures than men. However, blood pressure can rise in women after menopause.
  • Blood Volume – Severe bleeding lowers the blood volume within a person’s system and therefore the blood pressure lowers.
  • Stress – Heart rate and blood pressure increase when a person experiences stress, anger or fear. This is part of the body’s response to stress.
  • Pain – Pain generally increases blood pressure. But paradoxically, severe pain can cause a state of shock which can actually lower blood pressure – to dangerous levels.
  • Race – Black persons generally have higher blood pressures than white persons do.
  • Drugs – Drugs can be given to raise or lower blood pressure. Other drugs have the side effects of raising or lowering it as well.
  • Position – Did you know that blood pressure is generally lower when a person is lying down? And it is higher when a person is standing. Sudden changes in position can cause sudden changes in blood pressure. A person who stands suddenly may have a sudden drop in blood pressure, and experience dizziness or even faint.

To learn more about maintaining normal blood pressure and how to perform a reading as a Health Care Provider – then join us for your studies on Body Systems… and of course, you’ll have the pleasure of making my acquaintance!

About the Author:

Reg, while being the perfect specimen of the human body, is the man of the hour when it comes to studying ‘Body Systems’. He is committed to improving your understanding of the body’s structure and functions, and is excited to share articles on the subject in his own unique and quirky manner.

Comments (5)

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