Common questions answered on blood pressure readings

What is blood pressure?

Blood pressure is a biomedical reading that measures the force with which the heart pumps blood into the blood vessels. Blood pressure readings are comprised of two components. The upper reading, known as systolic pressure measure the force of the flow of blood against the arterial wall while the lower reading, known as diastolic pressure measures the pressure in between two heartbeats.

What do blood pressure readings indicate?

A blood pressure reading of equal to or slightly lesser than 120 mmHg systolic and 80 mmHg diastolic indicates normal blood pressure. Pre-hypertensive blood pressure readings could lie between 120 and 139 systolic and between 80 and 89 diastolic. If systolic pressure lies between 140 and 159 mmHg and diastolic between 90 and 99 mmHg, it is indicative of stage 1 hypertension. In stage 2 hypertension, the systolic blood pressure reading is greater than 160 mmHg and the diastolic reading is more than 100 mm Hg. Low blood pressure is also common in many people but is not considered potentially dangerous unless there are specific associated symptoms of debilitation or faintness.

What diseases are caused by hypertension?

While low blood pressure readings are considered normal and even healthy up to a certain permissible limit, even a pre-hypertensive blood pressure reading must be addressed immediately as hypertension, if left untreated can lead to a host of complications. People with hypertension are also at the risk of developing atherosclerosis due to the build-up of fat inside the blood vessels. Over time, atherosclerosis may also increase the risk of a stroke, which is why doctors often put people who are hypertensive on blood thinning medications.

Ischemic heart disease occurs when there’s a low supply of oxygen to the heart tissues. Other possible developments could include heart failure and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Long-term hypertension can also adversely affect the functioning of the kidney which is closely allied to cardiac wellness.

How is hypertension treated?

Doctors may prescribe drugs that lower the blood pressure reading so that a healthy systolic-diastolic ratio is maintained. However, the most important components involved in the treatment of hypertension involves systematic diet, sleep, exercise and lifestyle management.

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