Blood pressure represents the force exerted by blood on the artery walls. This force can vary throughout the day, depending on activity, stress and many other factors. If your blood pressure is consistently too high or too low, you should discuss it with a health professional. The following article will shed some light on the subject.
What are the target values?
Blood pressure values are defined by 2 numbers. The first is the value of the maximum force exerted on the arteries when the heart contracts. This value is known as systolic pressure. The second number corresponds to the force exerted on the arteries when the heart relaxes. This is called the diastolic pressure.
The target blood pressure is below 140/90 mmHg for most people. However, in diabetics, to prevent vessel damage, the target will usually be lower (130/80 mmHg). In the elderly, it is possible to aim for a slightly higher pressure than the general population to prevent falls. Blood pressure below 120/80 mmHg is considered normal.
Hyper ou hypo?
As its name suggests, hypertension is when your blood pressure is too high. On the other hand, hypotension occurs when your blood pressure is too low. There is no precise value for hypotension; it's all a question of symptoms. As mentioned above, blood pressure varies throughout the day, so no single value can be relied upon for diagnosis.
How do I know if I have hypertension?
Often, no symptoms are felt. This is why hypertension is often referred to as the "silent killer." Without symptoms, hypertension can only be detected by checking your systolic and diastolic blood pressure values with a blood pressure monitor.
Although there are usually no symptoms, some people may experience headaches, shortness of breath or nosebleeds. As these symptoms are not specific, a blood pressure test may indicate the appropriate course of action.
What are the symptoms of hypotension?
Some people may feel nothing in particular, but the following symptoms are often associated with hypotension: dizziness, fatigue, fainting, nausea and blurred vision.
What are the possible complications?
In the long term, hypertension can be very harmful. In fact, the excessive force exerted by the blood can lead to serious health problems such as heart attack, stroke, kidney failure and so on.
Hypotension can lead to falls. It is these falls that can lead to serious consequences, such as fractures.
How can I better control my blood pressure?
A number of non-pharmacological measures can help control blood pressure. These measures help maintain good cardiovascular health in general. They include:
- Quitting smoking
- Eat a balanced diet (too much salt can increase blood pressure).
- A healthy weight
- Exercise (it doesn't have to be very strenuous; walking can help)
- Limiting alcohol consumption
- Good stress management
If you're suffering from hypotension, it's important to stay sufficiently hydrated, especially in hot weather, avoid heavy meals, and be gentle when changing position (e.g., lying down to standing up).
What about medication?
If your health care professional prescribes medication to control your blood pressure, taking it in the correct dosage is essential to prevent complications from uncontrolled pressure. Since symptoms are often absent in the presence of hypertension, you shouldn't rely on symptoms to know when to take your medication. As blood pressure medications can interact with natural products or over-the-counter drugs, it's important to check compatibility with a healthcare professional.
If you have any questions about your medication, don't hesitate to talk to your pharmacist. They will be able to provide you with the right information.