How to Maintain a Healthy Blood Pressure

As blood pressure starts to rise, there are a lot of things that can be done. In this article, I will tell you about the importance of monitoring your blood pressure, symptoms to watch for, how to decrease your blood pressure, and what foods/drinks to avoid. 

Maintain a Healthy Blood Pressure

What is Blood Pressure?

First, blood pressure is best described as the force exerted against blood vessels by blood. It happens when the heart pushes blood out through blood vessels and into your body organs. The blood pressure goes up and down during each heartbeat cycle. When it is raised for a long time, the person’s health can deteriorate or have complications arise, leading to blood pressure-related disorders like heart attacks or strokes.

What is a Normal Blood Pressure?

Normal blood pressure is 120/80 (systolic blood pressure over diastolic blood pressure). The normal blood pressure for children is lower, 100/60. If your blood pressure is less than this, i.e., 90/60, it is called blood pressure in the range. At this blood pressure, blood flow to different organs would be under less resistance.

How Do You Check Your Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure can be checked anywhere on your body where an artery lies closer to the skin’s surface than any other artery is. The blood pressure monitor uses a blood pressure cuff to measure blood pressure in your arm. If you are interested, blood pressure monitors can be found online, at pharmacies, or at medical supply stores.

One of the most obvious ways to monitor your blood pressure is with an at-home blood pressure monitor. These blood pressure monitors can be bought pretty cheaply and they are easy to use:

– Wrap the blood pressure cuff around your upper arm and tighten it with the velcro strip (wrap it nice and tight)

– Lay down for 5 minutes, then sit up and hit the button on top of the blood pressure machine to get your blood pressure reading

– Write the blood pressure down, then take it again (if it was high) after you have rested for 1 minute to make sure your blood pressure has gone down because of the relaxation portion.

It is important to monitor blood pressure at home because blood pressure can be easily affected by stress or what you are eating/drinking.

How to Decrease Your Blood Pressure

Increasing blood pressure is caused by many things, some not under your control. However, blood pressure can easily be decreased through laying off the salt and also making sure you eat plenty of fruits/vegetables every day.

If your blood pressure is above normal blood pressure levels, the best way to decrease it would be through lifestyle changes. These steps include:

– Reduce salt in diet

– Do not smoke

– Drink alcohol only occasionally

– Keep blood pressure within normal range through exercise and weight loss. Maintaining a healthy weight is important to blood pressure levels because being overweight puts stress on the heart.

– Eat plenty of fresh fruits/vegetables every day, which are rich in potassium and low in sodium; both these nutrients can help lower blood pressure.

What to Avoid

Salt – Salt raises blood pressure by causing blood vessels to retain water, which makes the blood more viscous (thicker) and leads to increased blood flow resistance. Thinner blood is easier for the heart to pump. As mentioned before, eating plenty of fruits/vegetables can help to decrease blood pressure.

Alcohol – Excessive consumption of alcohol is the number one thing people need to stop doing because it blood pressure levels rise quickly and severely.

Caffeine – Caffeine raises blood pressure, especially when you are not used to caffeine consumption. Sodas are bad for blood pressure because they have caffeine which makes blood vessels constrict, which is the opposite of what blood vessels need to do. If blood pressure is high you should avoid coffee, tea, and soda because they will make your blood pressure higher. Instead of having a soda or coffee drink 10 ounces of water or 8 ounces of milk instead.

Smoking – Smoking constricts blood flow, which is bad for blood pressure. This can cause blood pressure to go up.

Stress – Stress increases blood pressure by causing the blood vessels to constrict through stress hormones. Being under constant emotional stress could also lead to an increased risk of heart disease. It is important to find ways to reduce your stress levels.

Symptoms of High Blood Pressure

If blood pressure is above normal blood pressure levels there are some symptoms that you may experience. The key to remember with blood pressure is that blood pressure can be affected by many different things, so it is important to write down blood pressure levels and monitor your blood pressure at home. If blood pressure is high, the best thing to do would be to make lifestyle changes such as exercising more often, changing diet (eating less salt, more fruits/vegetables), laying off alcohol/caffeine, and getting more sleep to help blood pressure go back down. Here are some of the possible symptoms:

– Headache

– Dizziness/Lightheadedness

– Vision changes (blurred vision)

– Ear noises (Buzzing in-ear, ringing in ears)

– Nausea/Vomiting

Medications are also important to blood pressure levels because blood pressure medications can lower blood pressure. Blood pressure medication can be taken in pill form or through an IV which would require a trip to the hospital. If blood pressure is high enough, blood flow could become blocked off, which can lead to blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes. These are all very bad things because blood pressure medication does not solve blood pressure problems. It just helps blood pressure levels go back down so that blood flow is not blocked off and it also decreases the risk of blood clots and other blood-flow issues caused by high blood pressure.

If blood pressure is high enough blood can also accumulate in blood vessels which could cause blood to flow backward through veins and capillaries, which would mean blood was flowing the opposite way it should be (blood flows from the heart to body). Because blood is flowing backward this can lead to blood clots causing strokes or blood clots leading to blood vessels blocking blood flow. This is also a very bad thing that blood pressure medication cannot solve. In order to fix blood flowing the wrong way blood vessels would have to be reopened and blood would have to be put back in veins and capillaries, but this can only happen at a hospital in an emergency room or operating room.

Symptoms of Low Blood Pressure

Symptoms of low blood pressure are very similar to symptoms of high blood pressure. This is because blood pressure does not have a set number. Blood pressure can fluctuate up and down all the time, which makes blood pressure levels difficult to manage. There are many different things that can cause blood pressure levels to go up or go down such as what blood vessels are constricted or relaxed, blood distribution in blood vessels, blood composition (different blood components have different densities), blood volume, blood pressure medication intake, etc.

Symptoms of low blood pressure include:

– Dizziness/Lightheadedness when changing positions (sitting to standing)

– Headache when changing positions (sitting to standing)

– Visual changes (blurred vision, tunnel vision)

– Problems with balance/coordination when changing positions (sitting to standing)

– Feeling warm or cold when changing positions (sitting to standing)

– Nausea/Vomiting when changing positions (sitting to standing)

What To Do to Raise Your Blood Pressure If It Is Too Low

If blood pressure is too low blood pressure can be raised by drinking caffeinated beverages, exercising, getting stressed/excited/agitated, laying down on the left side of the body (to help blood flow), doing breathing exercises to increase blood flow throughout blood vessels. Low blood pressure levels are not very dangerous for people who do not have blood pressure medication because blood pressure can go up and blood pressure medication cannot be taken without a prescription.

In Summary

You can monitor blood pressure at home with an at-home blood pressure monitor and decreasing blood pressure is as simple as laying off salt and eating more fruits/vegetables. Foods/drinks to avoid include soda, coffee, tea, etc. So make sure you remember all of these things to maintain healthy blood pressure.

I am not a doctor so please contact your primary care doctor or go to the ER if you need to seek any medical help.

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