Your Blood Pressure: 3 Things to Know
Why do you need to keep a pulse on your blood pressure? Heart disease is the “2nd leading cause of death in Canada,” but many of us don’t really understand the warning signs (read this Government of Canada article).
A key to preventing heart disease is a clear understanding of blood pressure and blood pressure readings.
You can prevent heart disease by understanding and controlling your blood pressure.
In this article, we’ll talk about:
- Understanding blood pressure readings
- The difference between HIGH blood pressure and LOW blood pressure
- Leading causes of high blood pressure and what to do
Systolic and Diastolic
If you’ve ever had your blood pressure taken, you already know that the reading is made up of two numbers. Those numbers represent pressure that is measured in mm/Hg, which means millimeters of mercury.
The first number is known as systolic blood pressure. That’s just a fancy way to say how much pressure your blood is applying against your artery walls when your heart beats.
The second number, diastolic blood pressure, is an indication of something similar: How much pressure your blood is applying against your artery walls while your heart is resting BETWEEN beats.
Together, these two numbers indicate which of 5 blood pressure ranges your blood pressure meets:
- Normal (that’s the one you want)
- Hypertension Stage 1
- Hypertension Stage 2
- Hypertensive Crisis
Find out more about each stage from the American Heart Association.
HYPOtension vs HYPERtension
Hypotension and Hypertension might sound similar, but they couldn’t be more different.
Hypotension refers to low blood pressure. Low blood pressure is not very common and, for some adults, it’s nothing to be concerned about. However,symptoms can include dizziness, fainting, confusion, agitation, fast & shallow breathing, and more.
Your health care practitioner will work with you to understand what blood pressure is normal for you and whether your low blood pressure is cause for alarm.
Hypertension refers to high blood pressure and is a major issue in Canada. Over 20% of Canadian adults (aged 20-79) have been diagnosed with hypertension and it’s a key contributor to heart disease in our country.
High blood pressure is no joke and is often called the “silent killer” because symptoms are rare. If you’re diagnosed with hypertension, you should work closely with your doctor to get it back to a normal (or at least lower) range.
We recommend getting your blood pressure checked at least annually.
Healthy Habits = Healthy Heart
Research has shown that high blood pressure is often caused by things within our control:
- Poor diet with minimal fruit and vegetables, and lots of fat, salt and cholesterol
- Lack of physical activity
- Smoking and/or excessive drinking
- Unmanaged stress
Do your best to say “good riddance” to some of your bad habits and welcome new, healthy ones! High blood pressure AND heart disease are often preventable; proper diet & exercise are great ways to prevent these diseases.
However, that’s not to say that high blood pressure is totally within our control. Hypertension can be a result of existing medical conditions, family history, certain medications, and other factors.
Concerned about your blood pressure? Reach out to Nurses on Demand for a free consultation.