Gain a Better Understanding of Blood Pressure

Hypertension and hypotension, more commonly known as high blood pressure and low blood pressure, are common conditions that affect a very large percentage of people in the United States. High blood pressure, which is more of a problem than low blood pressure, affects over half of adults in the United States. It is a widespread problem where lifestyle, genetics, medicine, and some environmental factors can cause people to have trouble staying within the healthy blood pressure range.

Low blood pressure, while more desirable than high blood pressure, can cause problems if the numbers drop too low. The same factors that contribute to high blood pressure--lifestyle, genetics, medicine, and some environmental factors--can be the same culprits that cause low blood pressure.

Blood Pressure Explained

Blood pressure is a measurement of the force of the blood pushing against the arteries as the heart pumps it through the circulatory system. It is also called a blood pressure chart. This measurement is given in number, or more specifically, a number over a second number. The number could be written as 120/80mmHG, and it would be pronounced as "120 over 80".

The top number is known as the systolic pressure and the bottom number is known as the diastolic pressure. The top number is a measurement of the highest pressure as the heart pumps blood and the bottom number is a measurement of the lowest pump as the heart relaxes. The recommended healthy range for the systolic and diastolic measurements is from 90/60mmHg to 120/80mmHg. These measurements are recommended for everyone regardless of age, race, or gender.

Blood pressure numbers can fluctuate daily, but having a blood pressure outside of the recommended range on a long-term basis can have serious negative consequences on a person's health without them even knowing that it's happening. Some of these consequences are:

  • Brain damage such as Mild Cognitive Impairment or Dementia
  • Damaged arteries, which can lead to an aneurysm
  • Strokes
  • Heart damage such as enlarged left heart or coronary artery disease
  • Heart attack, which could be fatal
  • Kidney damage or kidney failure

Low Blood Pressure

Low blood pressure is usually only a problem if it has symptoms with it or if there is a sudden drop in blood pressure. This can be especially true for elderly patients because proper blood flow to the heart could become a problem. A sudden drop can be detected if a person is lightheaded, dizzy, or passes out.

Stages of High Blood Pressure

In most cases, high blood pressure is much more dangerous than low blood pressure. There are five levels of high blood pressure. The first level is "Normal", with the pressure being less than 120/80. The second level is the "Elevated" which is when the systolic is between 120 and 129 but the diastolic is still 80 or less. The third level is "Stage 1 of High Blood Pressure. This is when the systolic is 130 to 139 and/or the diastolic is 80 to 89. "Stage 2 of High Blood Pressure" is the next level, where the systolic is 140 or higher and/or the diastolic is 90 or higher. The last level, the most dangerous, is "Hypertension Crisis". This is where the systolic is 180 or higher and/or the diastolic is 120 or higher. If a person reaches hypertension crisis, it is imperative that they get to a doctor immediately because they could have a stroke at any moment.

Common Causes of High, Low and Sudden Drops in Blood Pressure

There are many different things that can cause issues and changes to a person’s blood pressure.

High Blood PressueLow Blood PressueSudden Drops in Blood Pressure
ObesityMedicationLoss of Blood
SmokingPregnancyExtremes in Body Temperature
Genetic CausesHypothyroidismMedication
Sleep ApneaHypoglycemiaDehydration
High Salt DietsDiabetesSepsis
IllnessHeart IssuesAnaphylaxis
Lack of Physical ActivityLiver DiseaseHeart Disease
Thyroid ProblemsHeat Exhaustion 
Chronic Kidney Disease  
Old Age  

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