I think we have all heard our nurses tell us “your blood pressure is good today,” or possibly, “your blood pressure is a little high,” when we have gone to see the doctor for a number of reasons. Most people hear this and don’t think another thought about it, but what exactly does “good” blood pressure mean? Or why is nothing addressed even when the nurse says it is “a little high today”?
A lot of the information that we brush off of our shoulders is simply the information we are oblivious to. Teachers do not necessarily go into detail about common diseases such as high blood pressure (aka hypertension) in 8th grade health or 11th grade A&P classes. But here is the thing EVERYONE needs to know… high blood pressure is known as “the silent killer” in the medical world. It is a disease that is usually not properly monitored due to patients being unaware they even have it, or it is thought to be so common that it is overlooked in its seriousness, at least, through patients’ eyes.
Let’s start with the numbers. What exactly does 120/80 mean? The top number is known as the systolic number. In lamest terms, that number determines how much pressure your heart is enduring while beating. The bottom number is your diastolic number. This number tends to be looked at with more concern from doctors when it gets too high, because this basically determines how your heart is RESTING in between each heartbeat. When this number gets high, this means your heart is being overworked, because it is not resting properly in between beats like it should be. Both numbers are important though, but it is more common to see the systolic number higher than normal versus the diastolic number.
I took my blood pressure this morning. It was 115/75. I am usually in the 110/65 range, but I did not rest for 5 minutes sitting before I took it, had a cup of coffee, and am fighting some sinus problems that are making me sneeze and blow my nose a lot today. YES, all of these things affect blood pressure! But still, my numbers are good even after these factors are considered. My point to this is that you can be below 120/80 or even a little over those numbers and you are fine. Stress, pain, caffeine, smoking, diet, walking, (obviously exercise), having your feet or legs crossed, etc, have an affect on your blood pressure readings. However, with exercise (even though your blood pressure rises during it), your resting blood pressure will decrease overtime (which is a great thing!). Basically, the higher either of those numbers are, the harder your heart is working, and that is definitely a vital organ you want to keep healthy and strong.
High blood pressure is usually diagnosed when patients show consistent readings at or above 140/90. 180/120 is severe and needs to be addressed immediately by medical attention. Diet and exercise are typical factors that influence the development of this disease, however, it can also be caused by something else going on (secondary hypertension). This is why it is important to monitor your health! High blood pressure is reversible most of the time. Some of us are more prone to it than others due to our genetics. Either way, it is a disease that can be controlled, and even though its effects are severe (stroke, heart attack, death) it can easily be taken care of.
You can find more information about high blood pressure if you would like using some of these links below. If not, you can always call us. :)